20 lakh state workers to strike over pending dues

State-run hospitals, primary healthcare centres, and dairies will be the most affected services today
To express their ire over the state government's failure to implement the benefits of the Sixth Pay Commission, over 20 lakh government employees across the state are going on a day's strike. The strike is bound to cripple state-run hospitals, primary healthcare centers, and dairies. Besides government drivers, gardeners, canteen staff, including those working at Mantralaya will remain off-duty.

Now or never: Vishwas Katkar, secretary of one of the striking unions,
addresses the protesters outside Arsa Gate at Mantralaya.
Pic/ Bipin Kokate

United we stand
The Madhyavarti Organisation, Maharashtra Zilla Parishad Employees Association and the State and Semi-government Teachers' Organisation have decided to be a part of this protest. The coordinator of these three organisations, R G Karnik said that the employees had time and again raised their concern. However, the state failed to take necessary action, leaving the dissatisfied workers with no choice, but to call for the token strike.

Besides, Sharad Rao's Municipal Mazdoor Union too is supporting the agitating employees. Notices and posters have been put up across Mantralaya and other government establishments informing about the strike. 

Karnik said that the agitating employees are also upset with the fact that ever since Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan took charge (last year) he has not met their representatives even once. "The union wanted to present its case before the CM, as it would have helped in generating additional revenue to the state exchequer without increasing the taxes, but we are still awaiting their response," added Karnik.

Meanwhile about 70,000 class I and II gazetted officers would be working today, as the State Gazetted Officers Association has decided to distance itself from the strike.

'Take VRS'
"Nearly, 73 per cent of the revenue is spent on salaries and the amount is ever-increasing. The government can't afford it any longer. We need money for development schemes and schemes for the poor. We expect that at least 10 per cent of the staff take the voluntary retirement scheme. The process of identifying the excess staff has already begun in a big way. We shall redeploy them in other departments, once the excesses are found," said a bureaucrat from Mantralaya.

Unions' demands
The unions have made a charter of 33 demands from the government, some of them include clearance of DA for the last 35 months; 40% vacancies in class III and IV to be filled at earliest; increasing the retirement age of class III and IV workers from 58 to 60.

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