Jammu and Kashmir gets tough with striking employees


Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) in the state Monday evening after its employees went on strike, demanding arrears of their revised salaries on the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

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Over 450,000 employees have gone on strike, affecting all government-run institutions.

The government said the ESMA provisions were being invoked with immediate effect and it would mean ‘No work, no pay’.

The strike was called after talks between the government and the employees failed to break the deadlock over the staff’s demand for release of arrears and for raising the retirement age from 58 to 60 years.

All government offices remained closed Monday. Government schools were also closed as teachers joined the strike.

“We had placed the exact situation before the employees that the state’s resources did not permit us to make huge payment of Rs.4,120 crore, and the central government too is yet to give money for all this,” Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather told reporters after the cabinet meeting late Monday night.

“They forced our hands. We were left with no other alternative but to go in for invocation of ESMA,” Rather said. “We could not allow the public to suffer.”

The employees were promised that salaries as per recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission would be paid to them after the assembly elections in November-December 2008. The hiked salary was given to the employees from Aug 1, 2009, but the arrears due to them from Jan 1, 2006, to July 31, 2009, have not been paid.

“The government wanted to honour the promise but there is no money to make payment. We are still committed to make the payment as and when the money is available,” Rather said and appealed to employees to “see reason and rejoin duties”.