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Wave of strikes rocks Hemant boat

Ranchi, Jan. 23: Chief minister Hemant Soren must brace for a series of strikes by various sections of government employees in the coming days, their gripes ranging from promotions to unpaid dues, an inevitable fallout of the governance inertia plaguing the ruling JMM-Congress-RJD alliance.

A no-work-no-pay warning by the state government failed to dampen the spirits of agitating clerical staff posted at various district collectorates.

They have been on an indefinite strike since January 21 in support for their 18-point charter of demands that include framing of service rules that would ensure timely promotions.

“Success is achieved only after sustained struggle and sacrifices. We have been informed unofficially that our issue was discussed at Wednesday’s cabinet meet, but no decision was taken. We will go ahead with our agitation till a solution is worked out,” said the general secretary of Jharkhand State Non-gazetted Employees’ Federation, Vidyanand Vidyarthi.

Ranchi Municipal Corporation employees have threatened to go an indefinite strike from February 1. Earlier, they were on a pen down strike, which was called off after urban development minister Suresh Paswan came out with positive assurances.

Now, that his promises don’t look like materialising, they are preparing another round of agitations.

A joint forum of various unions of Jharkhand State Electricity Board employees has served an ultimatum to go on an indefinite strike from February 11. They want to be declared state government employees so that they are assured of all service benefits now that JSEB had been unbundled into four subsidiaries — a holding company, and three other entities to look after generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.

Secondary school teachers have also threatened an indefinite strike soon. Association president Ganga Yadav claimed that teachers had not been given due promotions since 1993 and had not been paid arrears following wage revision.

Worse, recently appointed Plus Two teachers weren’t receiving their salaries for the last five months.

“I spoke to human resources development minister Geetashree Oraon before Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. She promised us that the crisis will be resolved. But, nothing has happened,” Yadav added.

Para-teachers, too, were defiant. Although the state government had approved revision of their monthly honorariums, they alleged it wasn’t in tune with the agreed terms.

“We will definitely embark on a plan before the model code of conduct for the coming general elections comes into force,” said association general secretary Vikrant Jyoti.

Amidst all the gloom, health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh has, however, managed to defuse a possible crisis. An indefinite strike by contractual paramedical staff has ben averted after he got the state cabinet to pass a set of service regulations, which, in turn, would pave way for regularisation of their services.

Doctors at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) and other state-run medical colleges have called off their proposed agitation following the minister’s assurances.

“Being a trade union leader, I am duty bound to safeguard the interests of various sections of workers. Our government is serious about positive growth of the state. Justifiable demands of employees will be accepted and amicable solutions worked out,” said the Congress minister.

“Going on indefinite strikes is no solution,” he told The Telegraph.