People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 09

March 02, 2014




72 Hours Strike Gets Wide Support


AT the call of the Employees Coordination Committee, the state government employees of Haryana staged a successful 72 hours long, state-wide strike from January 21 to 23, in spite of all types of conspiracy by the state government. Lakhs of employees of the government and semi-government bodies, boards, corporations, universities and municipal bodies as well as workers of the schemes run by the central government took part in the strike that paralysed all work in Haryana.


For years, the Sarva Karmachari Sangh (SKS) of Haryana, which leads most of the employees’ unions and associations in the state, has continuously been fighting against the anti-employee and anti-people policies of the government like outsourcing, public private partnership, franchisees, contractisation in government departments and public concerns and the indifferent attitude of the government towards the employees’ movements and demands.


In the past, the chief minister of Haryana had assured the SKS delegations many a time that he would meet their demands and solve their problems. However, for long the government did not respond to the employees’ demands positively and tried to break their unity. This attitude of the government stoked the anger of employees and the Employee Coordination Committee had to give a call of 72 hour state-wide strike on from January 21 to 23, 2014. Through this successful strike, the state employees have given a message to the government that if their demands were not met the government would have to lose the forthcoming assembly elections.


During the Vidhan Sabha gherao on September 9, 2013, the Sarva Karamchari Sangh (SKS) of Haryana and the Haryana Karamchari Maha Sangh announced that all future agitations would be fought jointly. The Haryana Employees Coordination Committee was constituted for this purpose. At the call of the Coordination Committee, a one day strike was observed on November 13, 2013, and it was very successful throughout Haryana. The Haryana Employees Coordination Committee also approached the Chandigarh Secretariat Association, the Chandigarh-Punchkula Employees Coordination Committee and other organisations of the employees to forge the widest possible unity. On the occasion of the Halla Bol rally on December 22, 2013, the president of the HASLA and of the Coordination Committee of Chandigarh and Punchkula employees declared to fight the agitation unitedly.


The strike was quite effective all over Haryana and paralysed all official work at the directorate and government offices in Haryana. Due to strike by nearly 30,000 power employees, there was total blackout in about half of Haryana. Other services like health and water were also affected. The people of Rohtak city staged a dharna in front of the chief minister’s house demanding electricity and water. Also, there was cent percent strike in eight of the universities. Employees of the Education Board at Bhiwani went on strike, as did a large number of employees in different departments like public health, education,, forest, women and child development, social welfare, animal husbandry, treasury and revenue. Employees of Haryana Tourism, municipal corporations and committees, ITIs, Haryana Beej Vikas Nigam, HUDA, mandi board, market committees, income tax offices, general administration and cooperative societies also participated in strike.


The main demands of the strike were as below:


1) Stop to the policies of outsourcing, PPP, privatisation, contractisation, franchisees in government departments or public concerns.

2) Removal of anomalies in the pay of state government employees; implementation of the pay grades and allowances at par with the central employees.

3) Regularisation of the contractual, part-time, daily-wage and ad-hoc employees by making amendments in regularisation policy.

4) Granting maternity leave of six months for non-regular women workers.

5) Special 15 days extra casual leave per year for working women after obtaining 40 years of age.

6) 60 day special leave for hysterectomy.

7) Formation of an anti-sexual harassment committee in every government department and private company.

8) Release of letter of cashless medical facilities.

9) Minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month for unskilled workers.

10) Equal pay for equal work, for contract employees till regularisation.

11) Equivalent pay scale to that in Punjab for the ministerial staff, police, revenue and forest employees.

12) Strict enforcement of labour lows and stringent punishment for principal employers and contractors who violet the laws.

13) Restoration of the staff ratio in universities.

14) Status of government employees for all central scheme workers, till then a minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month for them.

15) Extension of benefit of past services to those employees who were retrenched in the past and who are now absorbed in various departments.

16) Permanent recruitment on vacant posts in all the government departments.


At the call of the Employees Coordination Committee, seven unions of roadways employees took part in the state-wide strike on November 13 and 14, 2013 and totally paralysed the roadways services. In order to break this unity, the government called the roadways coordination committee for a meeting and agreed on their various demands so that the roadways employees’ movement could be separated from the movement of other employees. But, as usual, the government did not implement its agreement with the roadways coordination committee, making every roadways employee feel cheated. Their coordination committee, except the union affiliated to the SKS, gave a call of two-day strike on January 20 and 21, 2014, while the SKS union called for a three-day strike from January 20 to 23. On January 19, the parliamentary affairs minister of Haryana called the leaders of the coordination committee of roadways workers and the government agreed to many of its demands but put the condition while over 8,000 special drivers and conductors would be regularised, they won’t be given the arrears from their date of joining. Another condition was that the union would not oppose the sanctioning of 3,519 proposed privet routes.


The Haryana Roadways Worker Union, affiliated to the SKS, strongly opposed these conditions while other unions were ready to accept. Thus the negotiation failed and all transport workers went on strike on January 20, 2014. There was cent percent strike in Haryana Roadways, except two depots, on the day. This was when lakhs of employees of other unions were on a three-day strike from January 21 to 23, 2014.


In yet another move to break the unity, the parliament affairs minister again called all the unions except the SKS-affiliated union on January 20 midnight. The government succeeded in persuading six unions for calling off strike on the same conditions which were rejected in earlier negotiations. As the news of withdrawal of roadways strike was flashed on news channels in early hours of January 21, confusion and despair spread among a majority of roadways employees. Though many of them joined duty, there was resistance at many places against the withdrawal of the strike. Nearly 200 employees and activists of mass organisations were arrested at Rohtak, Bhiwani and Fatehabad; these included Sarbat Singh Punia, state president of the Haryana Roadways Worker Union.


During the run-up to the strike, the SKS organised seminars on the changing character of employment and its effects on youth. Students and youth too took part in these seminars. The SFI, DYFI, JMS, Kisan Sabha and CITU organised processions and dharnas in support of the strike. The CPI(M) and CPI held demonstrations and dharnas on January 16, and extended support to the employees’ demands. The Left parties called upon the state government to desist from the path of confrontation and to resolve the issues of employees through negotiations.


On the other hand, members of the Congress party tried to stop in a planned way the processions of Kisan Sabha and Lal Jhanda Bhatta Mazdoor Union organised in support of the striking employees at Shiwani in district Bhiwani. They attacked and injured the state Kisan Sabha secretary Dayananad Punia and others. The police not only kept mum about all this but took these very leaders and activists into custody. Efforts were also made by Congress leaders at different places in the state to hold protest against the striking employees.


After the 72 hours strike ended on January 23, the government invited the Coordination Committee for talk. The chief secretary of the government of Haryana constituted three committees --- on regularisation, on anomalies in the sixth Pay Commission and on implementation of labour laws in government departments. These will give their recommendations as early as possible. A meeting of the Coordination Committee with the chief secretary will be held again. But overall it seems that the government is not yet serious enough regarding the employees’ demands. The Coordination Committee is therefore prepared to launch yet another phase of agitation which may include another strike, hunger strike and Jail Bharo actions.