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Strike on, but staff at work

Ranchi, May 17: A stern ultimatum was finally able to achieve what series of dialogues and persuasion couldn’t.

A majority of striking non-teaching employees of four of the five state universities joined work by 5pm today in response to a diktat from the state HRD department.

Except Dumka’s Sido-Kanhu Murmu University, the staff of all other varsities — Ranchi University, Kolhan University, Vinoba Bhave University and Nilambar Pitambar University — stuck to the deadline. However, the leaders, spearheading the three-month-long strike in favour of a host of demands ranging from implementation of sixth pay commission scale to regularisation of jobs of a few employees, chose not to toe the line.

The varsities are drawing up lists of such defiant employees against whom necessary action will be taken.

“Not a single employee joined work despite the HRD order. We will make a list of them,” said R.Y. Prasad, pro vice chancellor of SKMU, Dumka.

Parimal Kundan, spokesperson of SKMU Non-teaching Employees’ Association, a wing of Vishwa Vidyalaya Evam Maha Vidyalaya Karmachari Maha Sangh, said they did not get any instruction from the parent body to call off the strike.

At Kolhan University, the employees started trooping in by 3pm. “There are few who are continuing the strike. But going by the mood on the campus, I can say for certain that all will join by the evening,” said vice chancellor Shalil Kumar Roy.

In the state capital, except a handful of strikers, particularly the leaders, a majority of protesters had assumed duty by 5pm.

“We decided to resume office as the state has promised to fulfil a majority of our demands,” said Pawan Kumar, an employee of Marwari College.

However, Vishwa Vidyalaya Evam Maha Vidyalaya Karmachari Maha Sangh under which 7,000-odd non-teaching staff had been protesting since February 19 declared that the strike was on and that they would go for mass self-immolation in front of Raj Bhavan tomorrow.

“We stand by our demands and come what may, we will continue with our strike. We will not be bullied into submission by the HRD department,” said Ashok Pandey, a clerk of Ranchi Women’s College, claiming that a large number of striking employees had not gone back to work.

The day also saw a meeting on the issue among governor’s K. Vijay Kumar and Madhukar Gupta, HRD secretary D.K. Tiwari and higher education director D.N. Ojha.

“Those who defied the ultimatum will face tough action. The respective varsities will have to act against them. We have agreed to meet most of their demands. The employees are not doing right by disrupting academic activities in colleges,” Ojha said.