K’taka govt staff on indefinite strike from March 1; Services to be affected

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The state government employees have announced that they will strike work from March 1.

BENGALURU: A whole lot of citizen-related services are likely to be affected on Wednesday (March 1) with government employees planning to strike work demanding implementation of the 7th Pay Commission recommendations. Right from Vidhana Soudha, deputy commissioner’s offices, city corporations, government hospitals, water boards and teachers, all services are expected to be affected with the employees planning to go on mass leave.

The government employees are demanding that the government implement the interim report of the 7th Pay Commission, scrap the New Pension Scheme and revert to the Old Pension Scheme like in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had announced in the recently concluded Assembly session that the government will implement the 7th Pay Commission interim report after receiving it by March-end. However, the state government employees’ union is going ahead with its strike to pile pressure on the government. As a result, all offices in the Vidhana Soudha, secretariat, BBMP, deputy commissioner’s and taluk offices, gram panchayat, government schools and hospitals including primary health centres (PHCs), municipal corporations, government hostels and revenue departments.

In Bengaluru, all offices of the BBMP, revenue section, DC’s offfice, BBMP hospitals and PHCs, government hospitals, will be closed, while only emergency and outpatient services will be available.

State government employees union president Shadakshari said they will not back down.

Addressing a press conference, Shadakshari, president of the state government employees’ union, said there is no question of withdrawing the strike. “The indefinite protest will start from March 1 and there is no confusion about it. The CM had announced in February 2022 that the 7th Pay Commission recommendations will be implemented immediately, but nothing has happened so far. The government should have written to the Pay Commission and secured an interim report. About 5-6 states have brought back the Old Pension Scheme and we have requested that it be brought back in Karnataka also”, he said.

“We are stopping work in all the 10 city corporations in the state, including BBMP. The CM should intervene and implement the 7th Pay Commission. All types work of work will be suspended. Except maternity hospitals, all citizen services will be affected”, said A Amritraj, BBMP employees’ union president.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said in Hubballi that budgetary allocation has been made for the 7th Pay Commission interim recommendations.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Hubballi, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, “Senior officials are in touch with the office-bearers of the employees’ unions and are holding discussions. It was our government which set up the 7th Pay Commission. I have already made it clear in the Assembly that it will be implemented from 2023-24 and funds have been set aside for it in the Budget. The employees’ union had demanded that the government should seek and interim report and I have agreed to that also. We will direct the commission to submit an interim report and we are ready to implement it”.

Later in the afternoon, Chief Secretary Vandita Sharma held a meeting with representatives of various employees’ unions, but the meeting could not achieve any breakthrough.

Coming out of the meeting, state government employees’ association president Shadakshari said except for Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar’s programmes on Wednesday, the drivers’ union will not send drivers for the village stay programme. “We don’t want any written assurances. The government should come out with an order and only then we will resume work”, he said.

Shadakshari and other union leaders speaking to the media after the meeting with the chief secretary.

“Implementing the Pay Commisison will entail an additional expenditure of Rs 12,000 crore. There are 39 per cent vacant posts in the government services and the money saved in salaries can make up for the additional expense. Salaries of government employees account for only 16 per cent of the revenue”, he claimed.

He also said the employees are ready to work towards higher revenue targets and putting in more hours of work, but insisted that the government should implement the 7th Pay Commission and switch back to the Old Pension Scheme.
“This is the first time in 22 years that all government employees are going on an indefinite strike. We are ready for whatever action the government may take against us”, he added.

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