The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strike is out and work is in

Mumbai, June 5: If strike doesn’t work, try work.

For aggrieved passport office staff across the country, work — on a holiday — has really worked. The external affairs ministry, their employer, has agreed to sit across the table and discuss their demands.

It must be said though that they did not first try the conventional method: strike.

Last Saturday, a holiday, passport staff turned up in office, asking they be allowed to work, in protest against the recent round of transfers. There is one more thing they are unhappy about: the salary.

The manner of protest may be new but the demand not quite. It’s a method that Japanese workers apparently follow. For instance, workers in a shoe factory will make shoes for the left foot only to force the management to see right.

Passport staff were permitted to enter office but, alas, not allowed to work. “When we want them to work on normal working days they don’t, so why should we allow them to work when they feel like working on a holiday'”asked a senior officer.

Senior officers are now the aggrieved party because they believe the dying-to-work employees are being undeservingly glorified.

“While it is true that they offered to voluntarily work on a weekend, they had however threatened to go on an indefinite strike if their demands were not met,” the senior official said.

An employee admitted that such a thought did indeed cross their minds. “We did adopt a carrot-and-stick policy. Otherwise, nobody would bother to listen to us.”

Not the ministry alone, but outside, too, people are listening and they like what they hear, the employers, particularly.

“By working on a holiday, they have emulated the progressive example of Japanese workers who usually never cause financial loss to their organisations by upsetting production schedules and harming the country’s export earnings,” said Vijay G. Kalantri, the All-India Association of Industries chief.

“Passport officers have set a unique trend in protest actions,” he added.

What if this “unique” method is turned into a fine art, as in Japan' What if the staff begin to issue passports only to Pakistanis'

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