The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Staff trouble' Speak to & speak like Jaya
Naidu, Jayalalithaa

Hyderabad, July 25: Sleeping on a conversation with Jayalalithaa, Chandrababu Naidu has woken up to speak her language of summary sackings to the employees of his state.

“Dismiss them,” the Andhra Pradesh chief minister thundered yesterday, referring to doctors and officials who did not turn up for work when a viral epidemic is running riot in the state. The outbreak has claimed nearly 200 lives.

“Summarily dismiss those doctors who had not been attending to their duties during the last two months,” Naidu directed district collectors, overriding health department top guns.

Naidu’s immediate muse must have been the First Lady of firings with whom he had had a conversation the night before.

The telephone talk with the Tamil Nadu chief minister strayed from the stated objective of coordination in tackling the Krishna river dispute with Karnataka to the hot topic in Jayalalithaa’s state today— the blanket boot-out of almost 200,000 government employees who went on a strike. Most of the dismissed employees were taken back today but not before Jayalalithaa wrested a good-conduct undertaking from them.

Naidu congratulated the Iron Lady for the unflinching manner in which she tackled the strike. “It is good that the employees of Tamil Nadu have realised their mistake of forsaking public responsibilities,” he told Jayalalithaa. Naidu is likely to meet her in Delhi on July 29 after a Planning Commission meeting.

The morning after the call saw the word “dismissal” crossing Naidu’s lips once too often. Suspensions won’t do, sackings work better. “I have found that they (the errant officials) are prepared to take half pay and remain under suspension. I will not tolerate such attitude any more. There will be no suspensions hereafter. My government will initiate disciplinary action and dismiss them,” he said during his regular video conference with collectors.

Naidu also threatened to file criminal cases against doctors who stay away from the epidemic-affected areas. He was furious that even experts appointed by the state to provide guidance on sanitation and healthcare were not around for the video conference.

He is learnt to be miffed with the principal health secretary for her perceived leniency towards the truant doctors and their village assistants. This is being seen as the reason behind his direct call to district collectors for decisive action.

The conversation with Jayalalithaa must have helped but Naidu is not a novice when it comes to taming difficult trade unions. He had decisively tackled unions in the state power utility when he introduced reforms and trifurcated the board.

Thousands of government employees in Andhra Pradesh are already feeling threatened as the workforce is categorised as core and non-core. Union leaders have alleged that hardly 35 per cent of the present staff are put in the core group and the rest is on “the platter for” being eased out at the appropriate time.

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