Avoid confrontation, seek a midway path….
An old saying goes that after the writ of Almighty—creator and ruler of universe it is the government at hand that is duty-bound to manage the interests and prosperity of people judiciously. An astute and efficient Government comprises several components of which employees are the most important.
For the last more than a year the employees of state government are agitating for their demands they consider genuine and justified and to press for their demands they have many a times resorted to the extreme step of strikes and lockouts. At many occasions administration invited and engaged them in talks for resolving the vexed issue. However, for long there seems to be no end to this atmosphere of discord and mistrust. Now the hostility has reached a point of confrontation and since last week its severity has its gloomy impact not only on the governance and the employees but the common man is worst hit by this face-off. Employees are adamant on their demands and have accused some elements within the administration of misguiding the government and the consequent backtracking by the administration. And on the other hand government blames the leadership of employees for their rigid approach and blackmailing.
In this situation of deadlock it is only the ‘Aam Admi’ who suffers. State employees have a history of demands; unflinching crusade against injustice and suppressive position adopted by the government. But, almost every time at the end of the hostile tunnel light of flexibility and compassion could be seen for ensuing reconciliation. Unfortunately, this time round the impasse seems to be relentless!
At present the JCC (Joint Consultative Committee) the apex body of state employees’ trade union leadership other than its long pending demands of pay disparity with reference to central government employees and justified increase in dearness allowance is pressing for seeking enhancement in retirement age from existing 58 years to 60 years, regularization of all temporary workers and laborers engaged after 1994. Apparently, all these demands are not only genuine and justified but within the competence of the government. Certain demands can be time bound and cannot be resolved immediately but most of the demands can be fulfilled in a specific time frame.
Enhancement in retirement age can be a justified demand as the average life expectancy of people in the whole subcontinent has increased considerably and under prevailing circumstances in most of the cases active employment age starts at more than thirty years. However, because of many reasons known to employees as well pressing for such demand beyond permissible limits of representations and requests is relatively out of place at this juncture. Regarding other demands of regularizing all temporary workers and that of grade revision and dearness allowance are not only justified but a matter of survival and sustenance for thousands of workers and employees who are facing the brunt of inflation and price rise without any substantial compensation.
The accusation of employees’ leadership that government has backtracked from promises made earlier and is suppressing the genuine voice of its employees and their leadership cannot be denied outright. For the last many days after failure of talks administration has cracked its whip on employees and their leadership and is behaving in an autocratic manner. Employees are eyes and ears of the government and no administration can be run without their active support. Enacting laws like ESMA and issuing edicts with harsh words and meaning does not behove well to a democratically elected government. Intimidation of invoking ESMA, ‘no work no wages’ and treating strike period of employees as unauthorized absence leading to dies-non or break in service are undemocratic, smacking of autocratic stink within the system. As for the allegations of blackmail, rigidity and exploitation against trade union leaders, the whole leadership cannot afford to befool the thousands of employees that too in this contemporary era of education, empowerment and emancipation. There are gray patches in every system but generalizing the issue is not fair. Earlier we had many trade union leaders who would hobnob with the political leadership and be-fool the poor employees; entrap them in exploitative web for their own nefarious interests. But, for now not only the time has changed but the filthy mind and dirty heart too have gone a paradigm shift of clearness and dedication.
It becomes imperative both for upset trade union leadership and the egotistical management that they should shun the path of hostility and confrontation and try to find a way-out in the best interest of the people of this state of which government employees and their dependents make a sizable part. Particularly, the administration should not listen to manipulative advice of some vested interests; should avoid vindictive approach against its own people in the best interest of democracy and should fulfill all promises it had made earlier.