No to Govt employees’ strike

Government employees are the administration’s extended arms and they are a part of it. No Government policy or scheme can be implemented without the employees’ involvement. The success or failure of each administrative decision depends upon how practically employees have been able to perform on the ground. All employees are duty-bound to follow the policy decisions. It is also true that until the 1990s, the salaries were not so lucrative, but of late, the difference between Government and private salaries, specifically those of the lower cadre, is a total mismatch. In addition to salaries, the number of holidays and numerous other benefits are there, which are not there for private sector employees, especially in the unorganized sectors. The administration has already put all erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir employees on par with other UT employees, and all benefits, including school and college fee allowances for children, have been passed on. It is also true that certain Government departments and their employees work extra hours for months together to meet the deadlines set by the Government without getting any overtime or consolidated extra benefits. Practically speaking, administration and employees are complementary to each other; neither is complete without the other. It is also a fact that different employee unions exist, some of which may have an ideological alliance with the political parties not in power. Unfortunately, certain employees get carried away and indulge in protests or sit-down strikes for no reason at all. In addition to benefits, there is a proper forum and set procedure for registering the grievances of employees, and the administration is always ready to sort things out. When the administration has invested so much in them and is ready to address any genuine demand, there can be no reason for discontent. When J&K Government Employees (Conduct) Rule 20 clearly states that no Government employee shall engage himself in any kind of protest or demonstration, then why are employees flouting the rules and have been on protests for months together? However genuine the demands of employees, their absence for months at a time is not acceptable at all. Cities like Jammu and Srinagar are always witnessing Government employees’ sit-in protests. This hampers the workings of the administration and planned targets overrun the assigned dates. In the name of freedom to protest, nobody can take the public for a ride.
A Government job is a privilege, but it also comes with a sense of responsibility. Any protest demonstration puts an extra burden on security agencies as well. Jammu protests have a unique flavour: blockade of the main Tawi Bridge for hours together and take the public for a ride. This blockade results in a total traffic jam, and the resultant chaos is a nightmare for patients, students, and school-going toddlers stuck in these jams for hours together. The agony is more severe during the summers. The resultant loss of work means losses to the tune of crores. No administration can afford this type of anarchy and luxury in the present scenario. Lockdown due to COVID-19 has already caused delays in numerous projects, and employee protests in the present situation cannot be allowed. The administration has rightly put the onus on the department heads as protest demonstrations are the result of accumulative resentment due to the non-resolution of demands. Administrative heads must ensure all genuine demands get redressed immediately. e-HRM has already been implemented, employees can register their grievances even online. Creating embarrassing moments for the administration under the influence of political ideology or radicalization should be avoided. Employees are paid for work assigned, not for protests. The Government has rightly warned all the employees and expects them to desist from such protests in the future. Both administration and employees must share the responsibility for cordial relations. No one benefits from a confrontationist attitude.