Employees of the Karnataka government who had started an indefinite strike on Wednesday withdrew it hours after the government offered them an interim relief of 17% hike in basic salary.
The announcement was made by the president of the Karnataka State Government Employees Association President C.S. Shadakshari who said the strike had been called off with immediate effect and urged his colleagues to report to work immediately.
The government also announced setting up a committee under additional chief secretary to study the feasibility of withdrawing the National Pension Scheme and reverting to the old pension scheme (OPS), as per the demands of the association.
The committee has been told to study changes introduced in other States across India, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced on March 1. His statement came after a meeting with officials of the Finance Department.
Mr. Shadakshari met officials in the Finance Department where he was given a copy of the 17% hike offer. He thanked the government for the relief but reiterated that the employees would fight for the rest of their demands if they are not met.
Employees had launched the protest demanding pay revision, interim relief of 40% hike in basic salary and scrapping of NPS, and insisted they would not withdraw the strike till the government issued an order to this effect.
Strike affects major services
As last-minute parleys with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai late on February 28 night failed to yield a breakthrough, about eight lakh employees and those working in aided institutions launched the indefinite strike across Karnataka on Wednesday (March 1) morning. This affected several crucial services including health and education.
While doctors attended to all emergencies, they wore black badges. Some out-patient departments in general hospitals were hit. However, services at speciality hospitals, such as Vani Vilas Maternity hospital and Institute of Nephro Urology, were not affected. The Karnataka Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) had extended support to the strike.
Meanwhile, government and aided educational institutions were affected with teachers joining the strike. The SSLC preparatory examination, which was to commence on Wednesday, was postponed owing to the strike. The exam will now be held on March 6.
Govt offices closed, citizens inconvenienced
The Vidhana Soudha building, the M.S. Building on Ambedkar Veedhi, which houses offices of several government departments, and the Mini Vidhana Soudha in Yelahanka — all wore a deserted look. Protesters could be seen turning back elderly citizens who had come to the Vidhana Soudha for work. Similar scenes were witnessed in Mangaluru and Mysuru as well.
All the Sub-registrar offices across the city also remained closed on Wednesday. At the Byatarayanapura Sub-registrar Office, an elderly couple C. K. Anjanappa and Latha, who had made a trip to execute a gift deed, were caught unawares by the strike.
“There was no clarity that all offices will be shut down. We unnecessarily made the trip to the Sub-registrar office only to be greeted by downed shutters,” Mr. Anjanappa said.
Though Mini Vidhana Soudha, Yelahanka where the Yelahanka Taluk Tahsildar sits, remained closed due to the strike, it’s environs was abuzz with hundreds of people who had made the trip to get some work done. “I did not know that the tahsildar office would be closed. A tout had promised me to get me Pahani of some land in our village. He had said he would get it despite the strike, but now he himself is not here,” said Nagaraj.
While BBMP offices across the city remained shut, employees of the civic body held a protest at the BBMP Head office premises in N.R. Square.
Pourakarmikas demand extension
Meanwhile, hundreds of pourakarmikas gathered to submit objections to their names being left out from the draft selection list of pourakarmikas being made permanent in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, to no avail.
“BBMP has asked us to submit our objections in the office of Zonal Assistant Executive Engineer from February 28 to March 2. Tomorrow is the last date to submit our objections. BBMP officials had assured us that despite the strike, at least one officer will be present in the office and take our submissions. But there is none here today. We demand that the deadline be extended by a week as many are yet to file their objections,” said Chandranna, General Secretary, Karnataka State Pourakarmikas and Safai Karmachari Workers’ Union. Many pourakarmikas had gathered outside the Mini Vidhana Soudha in Yelahanka, to get their objection forms filled by representatives of the Union.