Weeks after several temple barbers went on strike in Andhra Pradesh, the state government has 'prohibited strikes' at the Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada for the next six months.
Following up on a letter from the Kanaka Durga temple Executive Officer (EO), the state government said that the barbers were one of many 'essential services departments' under the Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthnam (SDMSD).
According to media reports, other essential services under the AP Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1971, include water works, electricity, sanitation, medical, engineering, transportation and security among others.
The temple authorities had written to the state government after a sudden call for a strike by the barbers had inconvenienced several devotees.
“Strikes and protests will dent temple’s image if any inconvenience created during their visit. Also, with the Dasara festival fast approaching, it would help us focus on the arrangements. Hence, the decision,” a temple’s spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Thousands of barbers working in temples across the state went on strike demanding a fixed wage of Rs 13,000 and provident fund facilities.
Last month, a video of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu threatening temple barbers who were on strike went viral.
The incident took place at the state Secretariat in Amaravati.
The episode took place after a meeting between Deputy CM KE Krishna Murthy with Nayee Brahmin Committee members and officials over the strike by barbers who work in temples across the state.
According to media reports, people besides the committee members of the barber community arrived at the Secretariat and raised slogans on seeing the Chief Minister’s convoy.
Naidu, on seeing the barbers, stopped the convoy and got down to ‘discipline’ them.
“I will give respect if you give respect. If you play games like this, I will be very serious. There is a method for everything. You can’t dictate to governments. I thought of giving you respect, but you are coming to the Secretariat and doing whatever you wish. If you ever do this ever again, I will take you all to task,” Naidu is seen saying in the video.