THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The nation-wide strike called by central trade unions Friday hit normal life in Left- ruled Kerala with public transport vehicles staying off the roads and shops and business establishments downing shutters.
Autos, taxies, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and private buses are not plying on roads across the state with the workers of various unions taking part in the strike.
Major roads wore a deserted look in the state capital where hundreds of employees of ISRO units, including Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), could not reach their offices as the strike supporters laid a siege of an ISRO bus bay here.
Train passengers had a tough time as they had to walk to their homes after alighting at the railway station here.
However, police helped patients coming to the Regional Cancer centre here by arranging transport.
All major unions, barring RSS-associated BMS (Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh), have joined the strike, terming as "completely inadequate" the Central government's assurances to look into their demands and the recent announcements for two-year bonus and hike in minimum wage.
This is the first major strike in Kerala after the CPI (M) led LDF government came to power in May this year.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has courted controversy after expressing support to the strike on Facebook with BJP hitting out against him.
VSSC officials said employees of Indian Space Research Organisation's units here were stranded at the bus bay at Pattom here.
Three convoys of buses, which were to carry employees from different localities, could not leave as strike supporters laid siege of the bus bay of ISRO units at Pattom here.
About 6,000 odd employees of the VSSC in Thumba, ISRO Inertial Systems unit, a R&D unit of ISRO at Vattiyoorkavu, Liquid Propulsion systems centre (LPSC) and Indian Institute of Space Science Engineering college at Valliamala have been held up, sources said.
The union leaders led by former CPI (M) MLA, V Sivankutty staged a dharna in front of the bus bay this morning preventing employees from getting into the buses.
"Not a single bus has left the Pattom station since 7 am this morning. We are not sure when the convoys will ply," a VSSC official said.
In the past 15-20 years, we were never affected due to strikes as employees used to get transport arrangements, the official said.
Some vehicles of Technopark employees were also blocked.
In the Apollo Tyres Perambra unit, BMS workers came for work for the 6 am shift and striking workers tried to prevent them.
However, police intervened and allowed them to enter the unit. Employees of the Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) were also prevented at Kochi, police said.