People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 04, 2007
One Crore Govt Employees Strike Work
ABOUT one crore state government and central government employees and teachers from primary school level to university as also semi-government employees took part in a nationwide strike demanding total scrapping of anti-employee New Pension Scheme and the 12-Point Charter of Demands including Interim Relief to the central government employees, grant of Right to Strike and other demands.
The other demands include stopping privatisation, downsizing, retrenchment, casualisation and contractualisation instead of regular appointment, filling up of vacancies of nearly 20 lakhs of vacant posts in various government departments of the country so that the jobless youth can get jobs. They also include appointment of a judicial commission for wage review and improvement of service conditions of the ‘Grameen Dak Sevaks’, increase in the interest rate of GPF and small postal savings from 8 per cent to 12 per cent.
The decision for the countrywide strike was taken at the Joint Convention of the State and Central Government Employees and Teachers’ organisations held at Delhi on August 13, 2007.
The strike was complete in Kashmir, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh in North-East. In Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, the strike was almost complete. The state and central government employees, teachers and semi-government employees joined the strike in a massive way. In Haryana, even the Roadways employees joined the strike. The government of Haryana declared the strike ‘illegitimate’ and threatened action against the employees. The employees obviously ignored it
In Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar the strike was successful despite flood and heavy rain. In Srinagar and Jammu, the employees held massive demonstrations.
In Madhya Pradesh, the administration was paralysed by the large scale absence of the employees who held a massive dharna in Bhopal in support of the demand for scrapping of New Pension Scheme and other demands. In Uttaranchal also the employees abstained from work in a very big way and held demonstrations. In Rajasthan the strike received good response and employees held big demonstrations. In other states also, the striking employees held rallies.
In Orissa, Assam and Punjab, the effect of the strike was very good among the employees and teachers. In the Barack valley of Assam, the employees and teachers strike assumed the form of a general strike because of spontaneous participation of the other sections of the people including the transport workers and business community. Here the teachers’ strike was full. In Delhi, Gujarat and Meghalaya, employees of different departments of the central government observed full strike.
In order to suppress the strike just on the eve of this nationwide strike the central government issued a notorious circular threatening the employees of drastic vindictive measures including pay-cut and dismissal from service. But the employees ignored the threat of the repressive circular and boldly participated in the strike. The strike of the employees was also complete in Pondicherry and Andaman Nicober Islands.
The Sponsoring Committee of Trade Unions extended full support to the strike. The CITU and the organisations of the Banks and Insurance employees also lent full support to the strike. In some states like Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal members of these organisations demonstrated on the same day in support of the strike. Railway employees, BSNL and Defence employees also lent support to the strike in some states.
Pensioners’ associations in different states organised protest rallies, dharnas in support of the strike, as the pensioners will also be victims of the New Pension Scheme.
The New Pension Scheme originally mooted by the NDA government under the dictates of IMF-World Bank and the US administration which pursued the policy of imperialist globalisation. However the UPA government without any compunction carried forward this scheme. The PFRDA Bill and the subsequent Ordinance (Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority Bill) lapsed because of the stiff resistance mounted by the Left MPs in the parliament. Thereafter, the chief ministers and state finance ministers conference called by the prime minister at Delhi on January 22, 2007 also witnessed stout opposition by the finance ministers of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura and some North-East states.
The New Pension Scheme stipulates ending the existing pension scheme of the employees, their G P Fund, Gratuity and family pension benefits. It will impose a cut of 10 per cent on their pay and DA every month and handing over that accumulated astronomical amount to private companies, both indigenous and foreign, to invest in stock market. It is nothing but an imperialist conspiracy to boost up the profit greed of the finance capital, the speculators and the financial sharks at the expense of the common employees’ age-old benefit.
This unprecedented nationwide strike is another warning to government of India and the state governments to desist from implementing this notorious anti-employee scheme otherwise as the Joint Convention of Central, State and Teachers’ organisations warned, the governments will have to face more severe nationwide resistance including an indefinite stoppage of work by these sections of the employees and teachers.
It is hoped the government will learn adequate lessons from the tremendous response evoked by the strike and refrain from their ill-conceived steps of implementing the imperialist conspiracies of which New Pension Scheme is an integral part.