‘Chalo Vijayawada’: Why thousands of Andhra govt employees gathered for a protest

Despite police denying permission, a large number of employees, teachers and pensioners managed to reach the city and stage a massive protest.
Protest by Andhra government employees in Vijayawada
Protest by Andhra government employees in Vijayawada
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Tension prevailed in Vijayawada on Thursday, February 3, as thousands of employees and teachers from various parts of Andhra Pradesh, defying police ban, descended on the city for 'Chalo Vijayawada' to press their demands for a higher pay revision. Despite police denying permission for the protest and the curbs imposed across the state, a large number of employees, teachers and pensioners managed to reach the city after a call by 'PRC Sadhana Samiti', the joint action committee of all employees' associations.

Raising slogans like "we want justice" and holding flags of their respective unions and banners, the protesters began  a massive rally from AP NGO Bhavan towards BRTS Road. The rally brought traffic to a halt in the busy areas.

What are the protesters demanding?

The unions have been staging protests for the last couple of weeks, demanding scrapping of a Government Order (GO) by the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government, fixing new pay scales as per a pay revision announced last month. They have alleged that implementation of the new pay scale will result in a downward revision in their salaries.

The talks between the employees' unions and the ministerial committee on Tuesday, February 1, failed to end the deadlock as the government panel rejected the demands for rollback of GO and for providing a copy of Pay Revision Commission. The Finance Department also issued a circular on January 27 ordering the Treasury officials to draw up this month's salary bills in accordance with the new pay scales, amid the protests.

On Thursday, claiming that 'Chalo Vijayawada' was a huge success, the employees demanded that the state government take back the GO issued last month, fixing new pay scales as per 23% pay revision. They also argued that since they were receiving 27% interim relief the GO has led to downward revision in their salaries.

The employees demanded the government to make public the Pay Revision Commission (PRC) report. "Our demands are just. We are demanding the government to give us our rights," said an employee participating in the rally. Criticising the 'adamant' attitude of the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government, another employee said, "We don't want your reverse PRC. Pay us salaries as per the old pay scales."

Leaders of the employees' unions said the protest would continue till the government accepts all their demands. "The government stopped buses and trains but it could not stop us," said one of the leaders, Bandi Srinivasa Rao. The leaders said the employees would go ahead with the strike from February 7 as a result of which the entire administration will come to a standstill and the government would be responsible for the inconvenience caused to people.

Several detained

Police had denied permission for 'Chalo Vijayawada' protest programme in view of the COVID-19 situation and detained leaders of unions of government employees and teachers in various districts. The leaders were either placed under house arrest or summoned to police stations to serve notices, directing them to not leave for Vijayawada for the protest. They were told that action will be taken against them as per law, if they participate in the protest.

Vijayawada Police Commissioner Kanti Rana Tata had said that there was no permission for the protest as, according to the guidelines issued by the Union government and state governments any programme with a gathering of more than 200 should not be allowed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The police official had earlier said that section 144 of the CrPC was in force in Vijayawada and gathering of more than five persons would be a violation of law.

With IANS inputs

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