The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Apology over, wait for Amma amnesty

I have been dismissed from service for participating in the illegal strike from 2.7.2003. I hereby tender unconditional apology for resorting to strike from 2.7.2003. I request that I may kindly be reinstated in service

In Tamil Nadu, apology letters have replaced appointment letters.

Almost 170,000 sacked state employees tendered the apology, along with undertakings, to return to work on Friday. They were dismissed under the amended Essential Services Maintenance Act for striking work from July 2.

Barring 2,200 workers arrested and charged with violence, the others invoked the serpent goddess at the shrine outside Fort St George, the seat of the government, before stepping in.

Buoyed by the Supreme Court’s reinstatement order of Monday, the sacked workers trooped in. But not all could walk in unchallenged. At the secretariat, most were told they were “not entitled to enter the offices on Friday as they all had FIRs against them”. The stand was apparently repeated in several other government offices in the city and at district collectorates.

Already reeling under Jayalalithaa’s unprecedented action, the dejected workers huddled outside offices, wondering when Amma would “really relent”.

None was willing to protest loudly, unlike during the strike when some had raised “unparliamentary and abusive slogans against Jayalalithaa”.

Sources said the dismissed 3,700 among the main-secretariat staff had been “targeted” for doing so. They said they could not otherwise explain the spurt in the number of those facing FIRs. The state had informed the apex court of only 2,200 employees, including teachers, facing charges. The bigger list, “when we reached our offices this morning, came as a shock and a painful blow to us”, a revenue worker said.

Sources alleged that some departments had “bungled” despite chief secretary Lakshmi Pranesh thrashing out the details of reinstatement on Thursday night at a meeting of department chiefs. Even those on long leave or women workers on maternity leave — and in one instance “a dead man” — were struck off the rolls as no proper list of agitating absentees had been maintained, they said.

Office-bearers of workers’ unions rushed to Pranesh and finance secretary . Narayanan this evening, seeking the chief minister’s intervention.

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