‘Govt threatening us’: TN state government employees to defy diktat on Jan 8-9 strike

The Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary had warned employees not to participate in the nationwide strike against the Centre’s labour laws.
‘Govt threatening us’: TN state government employees to defy diktat on Jan 8-9 strike
‘Govt threatening us’: TN state government employees to defy diktat on Jan 8-9 strike
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A day after Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan issued a warning to state government employees asking them not to participate in the nationwide general strike against central government policies, the employees have vowed to defy the diktat, stating that the strike is a means to ‘vent their grievances.’

In a letter dated January 4, the Tamil Nadu government had stated that strict action will be taken against those government staff members found taking part in the strike. “I am to point out that strike or threat of strike or participation by Government Servants in strike or demonstration or any other form of agitation affecting the normal functioning of the government offices amount to violation of rules 20, 22 and 22 A of the Tamil Nadu Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1973,” the letter stated.

Speaking to TNM, however, A Soundararajan, Tamil Nadu President of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said that there were a multitude of issues for which the protest is taking place.

“The strike is to vent our grievances. Strikes are a democratically accepted form of protest. Rules are there of course, so they are invoking. Point is that such threatening is undemocratic. The protest will happen despite the order. When people are striking, the government should view this with consideration. This is not the way for a democracy to function,” he said.

“This government is doing this because it is fully under the central government. Those at the Centre are not controlling price rise. Petrol and diesel prices are under government control but even that is rising. Rupee value has been fluctuating. Rural distress among farmers is the biggest problem right now. There are 60-70 crore farmers in India. They are faced with cyclone, floods and drought. Loan waiver action should be taken. This is a corporate government. Unemployment is on the rise. Existing jobs are being snatched away with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence, especially in the auto industry. Labour laws are being amended and made toothless in order to favour landowners. Institutions like the Election Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, Planning Commission and even the Supreme Court are being eroded,” he added.

The CITU expects 20 crore people from across the country to participate in the strike. While there will be a farmers’ protest on January 8, a workers’ picketing is expected on January 9.

According to the Chief Secretary’s letter, disciplinary action will be taken against government staff who violate the rules that deal with Integrity and devotion to duty, Strikes, and Procession and Meetings. “If any of the Government servants have not attended office, consequent of their participation in the proposed All India Strike, their period of absence has to be considered as unauthorised and they are not entitled to any pay and allowances on the basis of the principle of No Work – No Pay,” it read.

Speaking to TNM, NL Sridharan, State President of the Tamil Nadu All Department Government Pensioners Association, said that it is routine for the government to issue such a circular.

“We are doing this despite the circular. They want to break the strike but we have previously conducted 17-18 strikes like this. It is only through protest that we can express our grievance. And this is not just government employees and teachers taking part. All India central trade unions, All India State Employees Sammelan, Central Government Employees Sammelan and others are also participating. Our demand is that minimum wage for government employees should be at a minimum of Rs 18,000 and pension should be at a minimum of Rs 9,000,” he said.

He added, “The Joint Action Council of the Tamil Nadu Teachers’ Organisations and Government Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO) is also taking part.”

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