LBT: Traders call off strike,finally

Day 13: Federation leaders meet CM Chavan,chief secretary in Mumbai,say they are satisfied as most of their demands have been met by the govt.

Written by Express News Service | Published:May 21, 2013 1:46 am

With the state government accepting “most of the demands” of protesting traders,the Federation of Trade Unions of Pune (FTUP) called off the indefinite strike on Monday on the 13th day of the strike. Federation leaders said they held long discussions with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Chief Secretary Jayant Banthia in Mumbai and were satisfied with the promises made by the government.

Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Babar,a member of the traders’ delegation that met the CM on Monday,said: “Almost 70 to 80 per cent of our demands have been met. Hence,we are calling off the strike.”

Babar,who headed the agitation in Pimpri-Chinchwad area,said a general body meeting of the federation had been called on Tuesday where the members would be apprised of the discussion held with the government and a formal announcement about calling off the strike would be made.

Among others who met Chavan and Banthia were federation president Popatlal Ostwal and treasurer Fatehchand Ranka.

To protest the state government’s decision to implement the local body tax (LBT) from April 1 — replacing octroi — in PMC and PCMC areas,the traders went on an indefinite strike from April 1. This strike was,however,called off on April 6 after the CM promised to look into their demands. On May 10,the traders launched the strike again,alleging that the government had gone back on its promise by not bringing out any amendment in the LBT. The strike was largely successful with all major markets in the city remaining shut.

On Saturday,however,Poona Merchants’ Chamber,one of the trade unions participating in the strike,declared to pull out. It was estimated that the strike had caused losses of business to the tune of over Rs 5,000 to traders in PMC and PCMC areas till Saturday.

Foodgrain and grocery shops represented by the Poona Merchants’ Chamber opened for business on Monday. Consumers and retail traders thronged to Market Yard to make up for the loss incurred on these 11 days.

Many other shops could also be seen open during the morning and evening hours in various parts of the city on Monday.

Grahak Peth,a chain of cooperative departmental stores,said they would be back in business from Tuesday. “We have been a part of the protest for over a week now. In the light of the positive discussions between traders’ leaders and the chief secretary in Mumbai,we have decided to call off the strike,” said Suryakant Pathak,executive president of Grahak Peth.

Citizens,meanwhile,said while the first shutdown had caused a lot of inconvenience,things were much better during the second round of the strike.

Anant Wadkar,a resident of Bibwedadi,said several shops in his locality were open. “Though the strike is causing inconvenience as important markets are closed. But there is no scarcity of foodgrains and other essential goods as many traders kept their shops discreetly open by keeping shutters half open. Also,you can always visit a mall and get whatever you want — from food stuff to clothes to computers,” he said.

Meanwhile,a group of NGOs,political parities and unions,including Joint Workers’ Union Action Committee and Centre of Traders’ Unions (CITU),organised a protest against the strike over LBT. They alleged that big traders were misleading the small traders into believing that LBT was detrimental for their interests,and making the latter participate in the strike.

“The traders had moved the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. Both have ruled against scrapping LBT. Still,the traders are harassing the common man by keeping shops shut. We call upon the government to take stringent action against these traders who are harassing the public. The government should cancel the operating licences of the traders and cooperative societies participating in the strike,” said Ravindra Malwadkar,one of the protesters who is a serving NCP corporator.

Kiran Moghe of All India Democratic Women’s Association,Satish Chavan of CITU and Sachin Mengale of Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh were present during the protest.

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