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India unions strike against reform

BBC World Service, Saturday 12 December 1998, published at 01:20 GMT

A one-day strike by tens of thousands of industrial and public sector workers across India caused disruptions in some parts of the country, though its impact was not as great as many expected.

The strike was called by trade unions to protest the government's plans for further privatisation and its decision to allow foreign investment in the insurance sector.

The strike caused major disruption in Calcutta and the states of West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu, but other areas were largely unaffected.

A number of people were reported injured in clashes between rival political groups in West Bengal.

In Delhi, protesters marched to Parliament and proceedings were disrupted by MPs supporting the action.

In Bombay, India's financial centre, most industries were closed but the financial markets were open as usual.

A BBC correspondent in Delhi, however, says the strike will send a negative message to potential foreign investors.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service