Miffed with the Andhra Pradesh government’s pay revision orders, the PRC Struggle Committee, which encompasses four employees’ associations and Joint Action Committees (JACs), have served a strike notice. On Monday, January 24, the committee said that they would indefinitely go on strike from February 7 demanding, among other things, immediate withdrawal of the pay revision orders issued on January 17.
The Struggle Committee leaders boycotted an informal meeting, called by a government-appointed committee of ministers to break the impasse, and went ahead with its planned action plan, even as petition was filed by the AP Gazetted Officers Association president KV Krishnaiah against the pay revision orders came up for hearing in the High Court. After initially calling it informal, the government on Monday issued formal orders constituting a committee to deliberate with employees' associations on the pay revision and "clear the apprehensions" and "sort out the connected issues" arising out of the January 17 orders.
Ministers Botsa Satyanarayana (Municipal Administration), Buggana Rajendranath (Finance) and Perni Venkataramaiah (Information), government advisor (public affairs) S R K Reddy have been named as members of the committee, with Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma acting as the member-convenor. With the Finance Minister and the Chief Secretary away in New Delhi, the other members of the committee invited the PRC Struggle Committee leaders for talks but the latter rejected the offer.
The Struggle Committee leaders made it clear that they would not take part in any further talks with the government until the January 17 orders were rescinded. After waiting for the employees' leaders for a few hours, the ministers, along with the advisor, left the Secretariat.
In the notice of strike, which the Struggle Committee leaders handed over to the General Administration Department (Services) Principal Secretary Shashi Bhushan Kumar, in the absence of the Chief Secretary, the former said the employees' associations have expressed disagreement with the pay revision orders as they were "detrimental and adversely impacting the earnings of employees, teachers and pensioners".
The Struggle Committee leaders Bopparaju Venkateswarlu, Bandi Srinivasa Rao, K Suryanarayana and K Venkatarami Reddy were among those who met the Principal Secretary.
"The employees have been demonstrating in various forms across the state demanding withdrawal of the pay revision orders. There has been no response from the government to arrive at an amicable solution. Instead, some actions of the government have been provocative over hurried and unilateral implementation of the pay revision," the Struggle Committee said.
The employees were also not provided the option of choosing the effective date (for new scales) that was a customary practice.
"The Steering Committee has reviewed the situation critically, keeping the demands of lakhs of employees, teachers and pensioners in view, and unanimously decided to proceed with the agitation programme," it said.
Apart from fitment, house rent allowance, city compensatory allowance and other benefits related to the pay revision, the Struggle Committee also sought immediate scrapping of the contributory pension scheme, declaring probation and applying pay revision to the village and ward secretariat employees, regularising the services of contract and contingent employees and enhancing remuneration of outsourced employees on the principle of equal work equal pay'.
"The employees' associations have tried their best to impress upon and convince the government for an amicable settlement of the demands but could not get the desired results due to the adamant attitude of the government. It is thus the representing bodies of the employees, teachers and pensioners have been driven to take the agitation path," the Struggle Committee leaders said.