Union leader dies as strike begins

Feb. 20, 2013 at 6:07 AM
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NEW DELHI, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A trade union leader died after being hit by a bus Wednesday in India as several unions started a two-day nationwide strike to protest government policies.

The victim, identified as Narendar Singh, a bus driver, died in Ambala in northern Haryana state, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Other reports said the strike, called to protest higher fuel and other prices and policies, had affected banking and transport services.

PTI, quoting a roadway official, said Singh was sitting with other striking workers near a bus depot when he was struck by a vehicle that he tried to stop from moving. The report said other workers damaged police vehicles. Security was later tightened at various locations.

Financial Express reported the strike by 11 trade unions disrupted life in some states, affecting banking and transport sectors.

In New Delhi, local train services weren't affected but taxis and three-wheeler auto-rickshaws stayed off the roads in sympathy with the unions, affecting some commuters.

Demands of the unions include strict enforcement of labor laws at work places, social security net for workers in unorganized sectors and an end to disinvestment of public sector companies.

The strike comes as the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, fighting inflation, a slowing economy and rising deficits prepares to present a budget this month.

There is also opposition to the government's reform efforts such as opening the retail and insurance sectors to foreign investors.

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