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Haryana

Posted at: May 16, 2018, 12:43 AM; last updated: May 16, 2018, 12:43 AM (IST)

MC strike: Govt in Catch-22 over imposition of ESMA

Protest by sanitation staff enters Day 7 | Garbage piles up
MC strike: Govt in Catch-22 over imposition of ESMA
Sanitation employees stage a dharna at the Mini-Secretariat in Karnal on Tuesday. Sayeed Ahmed

Pradeep Sharma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15

On the back foot in the backdrop of the week-long strike by sanitation workers, the Haryana Government has been caught in a Catch-22 situation on imposition of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against the striking municipal staff.

Though the state government has already warned the striking employees on imposition of ESMA if they do not call off the strike, imposing it is proving a tough call for the BJP government in pre-election year.

With the Sarv Karamchari Sangh, the apex organisation of government employees, throwing its lot behind the striking staff, the BJP government is clearly “indecisive” on taking a tough stand against the striking staff for fear of a backlash from other employees’ organisations.

Nagar Palika Karamchari Sangh president Naresh Kumar Shastri on Tuesday threatened an indefinite stir if their demands were not accepted by Thursday.

In view of the strike, the Haryana Police directed senior police functionaries at the commissionerate and district levels to keep tabs on the situation and take measures to prevent any untoward incident.

In a written communication, DGP BS Sandhu directed all Commissioners of Police, Superintendents of Police and the SP Railways, Ambala Cantonment, to monitor the situation in areas under their jurisdiction and put in place adequate police personnel.

Senior government functionaries pinned their hopes on Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, back from the UK, to resolve the matter after talks between employees and senior officials failed on Monday.

Since a call on most of the demands of striking employees would have to be taken at the level of the Chief Minister, Khattar or a senior minister might hold parleys with the staff to break the deadlock.

Regularisation of contractual staff, minimum salary of Rs15,000 per month, ex gratia, pension, risk allowance, cashless facility and absorption of about 1,400 employees of the Fire Department into government grade are some of the demands of employees.

Interestingly, two major demands — regularisation of contractual staff and minimum salary of Rs15,000 per month — were part of the BJP manifesto for the 2014 Assembly elections.

Over 30,000 employees and workers, including safai karamcharis of nearly 90 municipal corporations, committees and councils, had been on strike since May 9 in support of their demands, putting residents to inconvenience in the wake of non-collection of garbage.

A 10-member delegation led by Subhash Lamba, general secretary of the Sarv Karamchari Sangh, and Naresh Shastri, president of the Nagar Palika Karamchari Sangh, will hold talks with Khattar here on Wednesday to end the deadlock over employees’ demands.

Talks with Khattar today

A 10-member delegation of the the Sarv Karamchari Sangh and Nagar Palika Karamchari Sangh will hold talks with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in Chandigarh on Wednesday to end the deadlock.  

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