Bengaluru: Essential services such as banking and transport were hit in Karnataka on Friday due to a day-long strike by central and state trade unions.
Shops, markets, banks and factories were shut, and buses, taxis, and autos kept off the roads across the state, affecting normal life.
In the absence of bus services and to avoid inconvenience to students, schools, and colleges in seven of the 30 districts across the state, including Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubbli-Dharwad, Mangaluru, Udupi, Kalaburgi and Belagavi have declared a holiday.
"The response to our strike call has been good from across the state, as thousands of workers, including women and officers, have boycotted work and are demonstrating against the government in support of our demands," a trade union leader told IANS.
Thirty-six platoons of Karnataka State Reserve Police, 21 of City Armed Reserve and 270 Police patrol vehicles are deployed across Bengaluru, officials said.
Demonstrations are being held by trade unions across the state. At a march held in the city, protesters with banners marched from Town hall to Freedom Park here shouting slogans against government policies.
Essential services like ambulance, the supply of drinking water and milk and private vehicles carrying commodities and vegetables have been exempted from the strike.
"Though all state-run, private, district and cooperative banks are closed, many of their ATMs (automatic teller machines) are functioning to enable people to draw cash," AIBOC general secretary AN Krishna Murthy told IANS.
Suspension of state-run and private bus services on the intra-state and interstate routes from many cities in the state has affected thousands of commuters, as drivers, conductors, and their support staff joined the 12-hour dawn-to-dusk (6 am to 6 pm).
Hundreds of passengers alighting from trains at three railway stations and airports in Bengaluru were caught unaware and have been stranded since morning in the absence of buses, taxis, and autos.
"Thousands of factory workers and officers in industrial areas like Peenya, Anekal, Bidadi and Jigani in the city`s northwest and southwest suburbs, took out rallies and demonstrated against the anti-labour laws and indifference of the government to their demands.
The strike has, however, not affected the working of IT services and biotech firms in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru and Hubblali though their companies have hired in advance vehicles to ferry their employees.
In spite of the state government`s offices remaining open, attendance was thin in the first hour in the absence of alternative transport for commuting from their houses.
Barring the Bharat Mazdoor Sangh, all central and state level trade unions are participating in the strike.
People residing in and around metro stations in the east-west corridor of Bengaluru are, however, able to commute as the state-run organisation is operating its services.
The unions have called the protest against the central government's "indifference" to their demands for better wages and facilities and "anti-worker" changes in labour laws.
(With Agency inputs)