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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Govt terminating services of 40 ring leaders today

Minister: Trade union leadership’s ship will be sinking in a few days
JCC: Employees are firmly on strike and they make the Govt bow soon

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 12: Minister of Irrigation & Public Health Engineering, Taj Mohiuddin, confirmed to this newspaper that Omar Abdullah’s coalition government would be terminating the services of 35 to 40 ring leaders of different trade unions any time on Tuesday as, according to him, government’s limit of leniency towards the employees on the strike had exhausted fully. Continuing to take the government’s threats of “stern action” non-seriously, trade union leaders today extended the state-wide strike of over four Lakh employees to April 17th as they threatened to include essential services in the stir and asserted that the government would be forced to bow.

Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that the state government had compiled a list of 40 trade union leaders on the basis of reports received from their respective Heads of departments (HODs) and CID for termination of their services under Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). Sources said that much more than the officials found absent in their offices, government had taken serious notice of a number of trade union leaders and activists enforcing the shutdown of offices while physically preventing staff from attending to their duties. With the help of Police intelligence and telecommunication companies, government has gathered material evidence of the employees being harassed over mobile phones and threatened of “dire consequences” if they continued to keep their offices functional.

Member of the 5-member Cabinet Sub-committee dealing with the employees’ strike, Taj Mohiuddin, confirmed to Early Times that the government had compiled a list of 35 to 40 “disruptionists” andb their services were being terminated by competent authorities any time on Tuesday. He said that even after invoking ESMA on April 9th last, Government had avoided to take the extreme action and had provided every possible opportunity to the employees to terminate the strike and engage it in a dialogue for redressal of their genuine grievances. “Rather than being amenable to reason and logic, they unfortunately continued to enforce shutdown and doled out threats to make the government bow. They can no more test our patience as the limit of our leniency has now exhausted fully and we are striking back with termination of the services of all delinquent ring leaders”, Taj said.

Taj said that taking stern action against those enforcing shutdown of offices with open threats had become imperative as the government was responsible for keeping the systems and services to the people functional. Besides, it had now become the question of the government’s credibility. “We have placed under suspension some defaulters and detained few others but avoided to go for the extreme action. Now that the trade union leaders have chosen to be obstinate, we are left with no option but to terminate services and initiate process of fresh recruitment”, he said.

While commenting on the trade union leaders’ fresh decision of extending the strike to April 17th, exempting the educational institutions but announcing their own timing of 0830 hrs to 1230 hrs, and threatening to go for breakdown of all essential services, Taj said: “I am telling you with full amount of confidence that the government is going to tackle this strike firmly. Take it from me that the ship of trade union leadership will be sinking in the next few days. If they are sure to enforce the breakdown of power system on April 17th, we are sure to keep it functional throughout the state”.

Taking serious note of reports that a large section of the junior employees was inclined to attend duty but their officers were more proactive in the strike, Government today ordered suspension of over two dozen officials, including a Tehsildar and Naib Tehsildar in Pulwama district. Government is understood to have directed Deputy Commissioner of Budgam to take necessary action against Chief Medical Officer, Dr Abdullah, who had locked his office and was missing since April 5th. Police today conducted a raid on CMO Budgam’s office and found him absent though a number of his subordinate officials were found present but sitting in a park outside.

On the other hand, addressing a news conference, EJAC top functionaries, Khursheed Alam, Muntazar Mohiuddin and Fayaz Shabnam reiterated that the employees’ strike would soon make the government bow. They asserted that Government’s threats of stern action could not succeed in breaking the employees’ resolve. They announced JCC’s decision of extending the strike to April 17th and said that there would complete power breakdown in entire state of Jammu & Kashmir on April 17th in case the Government chose not to revoke ESMA and release all those detained in the last ten days. They also said that essential services would be included in the strike if the stalemate continued.

On the 8th consecutive day of the JCC and EJAC –sponsored strike today, nearly 10 percent of the educational institutions were seen functional, albeit with few students and teachers in attendance. Reports said that there was reasonable increase in the employees’ attendance in other offices but the strike appeared to be imposing as few people were seen going to government officials for getting their routine works done.

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