Chennai, July 14: Employees and teachers dismissed for participating in last week’s strike remain in limbo even as parties appealed to Jayalalithaa today to revoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act.
An attempt by representatives of the joint action council of major employee unions to meet the chief minister today to urge her to revoke the dismissal of nearly 170,000 workers failed. They could only meet chief secretary Lakshmi Pranesh and finance secretary . Narayanan and submitted a memorandum to them.
On Saturday, the council withdrew its strike after Madras High Court declined to interfere and asked the employees to approach the state administrative tribunal.
Today’s all-party meeting organised by CPI leader R. Nallakannu was attended by representatives from the Cong- ress, DMK, CPM, MDMK, PMK and the Dalit Panthers of India. The leaders expressed concern over the plight of the employees who were dismissed without an inquiry and pleaded for their reinstatement.
But the beleaguered employee unions sought to distance themselves from the politicians. Demoralised by the en masse dismissals and desperate to get back their jobs, the union representatives declined to endorse decisions made at the all-party meeting.
“We do not want to politicise the issue and we have nothing to do with the all-party meeting,” a spokesman for the unions said.
The parties had cited a recommendation of the second national commission on labour headed by Ravindra Verma, urging the Centre to revoke the essential services act. They asked Jayalalithaa to revoke the act along with the ordinance amending the law which were used in tandem to dismiss the employees.
The government’s action is unprecedented in independent India.
The parties may have decided to organise a protest meeting here on Saturday, but union representatives today distanced themselves from any move by other trade unions to appeal against the high court verdict.
Elsewhere, the government completed the recruitment of 1,000 temporary “office assistants” at Fort St George. Hundreds of sacked employees who turned up today at government offices in the city and districts were stopped from entering the premises.
For Jayalalithaa, it was business as usual. Among her official assignments was unveiling a plaque for constructing a memorial in Virdhunagar to Congress leader K. Kamaraj in his centenary year.