With the government employees in Karnataka set to go on an indefinite strike from March 1, seeking fulfilment of various demands, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday, February 28, reached out to them, saying that the administration was ready to seek 7th Pay Commission's interim report and implement it. Most of the services, barring a few like transport, critical care at hospitals and crematoriums, are likely to be hit due to the strike from tomorrow, as talks between the employees' association and the talks with Chief Secretary did not yield positive results.
The employees have put forward their demands, including implementation of the 7th Pay Commission report and implementation of at least 40% of fitment facilities, and reverting to the Old Pension Scheme.
"Our senior officials are in touch with the government employees association and their President, holding talks. I have already made it clear in the Assembly that we are the ones who formed the seventh pay commission and it will be implemented in 2023-24 itself, and funds have been allocated for it in the budget," Bommai told reporters at Hubballi.
He said that their demand was to seek an interim report and implement it, which he has agreed to. "We are ready to immediately direct the 7th Pay Commission to give the interim report and to implement it," he added. Later speaking to reporters in Siddapaura, the CM said that he too will hold discussions with the pay commission and top officials, and expressed confidence about resolving the issue. When asked whether the government will invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), he said that such a situation has not arisen and he did not want to comment on it.
Karnataka State Government Employees' Association President CS Shadakshari, after meeting with the Chief Secretary Vandita Sharma and other top government officials from Finance Department and CM's Office, said that there was no question of them withdrawing the call for strike at this point in time.
"We have informed them (govt) that we will go back only if the government issues the order. They sought time to seek a report from the pay commission and to implement it, but we have all unanimously said that we will not withdraw the strike. Strike is certain, whether it is for 15 days or one month," he told reporters.
"Whenever the government calls for negotiations, we will go," he said, adding that 10 lakh government employees are united, and this is the first such large-scale protest by employees in the state, after 22 years.
Shadakshari had earlier said that all services including hospitals -- other than casualty and essential services -- will be affected. Also, all services of 'Mahanagara Palike' and 'Pura Sabha' including pourakarmika (civic workers) and various energy supply companies. Revenue collection, schools and pre-university examinations, will also be hit, he said, adding that "there is already an 8-month delay, we cannot wait anymore, we don't know what will happen when the new government comes in, so employees have decided to go on strike voluntarily".