Kashmir employees extend strike till April 17


Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government employees Monday extended their strike up to April 17, threatening to shutdown essential services across the state if the government did not accede to their demands by then.

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Speaking to mediapersons here, Khurshid Alam, president of the Employees’ Joint Action Committee (EJAC), said: “We have decided to extend the present strike up to April 17.”

The strike continued for the ninth day Monday.

“On the evening of April 17 we will shut down electric supply across the state symbolically for one hour. If the government does not accede to our demands by then, we will be forced to include all the essential services in our future strike programme,” he added.

The union leader of the striking employees also said pressure tactics of the government would not succeed in breaking up the strike.

“There seems to be two governments in the state. On the one hand, the chief minister invites us for talks and one the other hand, police cracks down on us arresting our activists,” he said.

“The Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah is well meaning, but he is being wrongly advised by his advisors,” Alam said.

He also announced the decision of the striking employees to allow government-run schools to function from Tuesday from 8.50 a.m. to 12.50 p.m.

“The teachers would work voluntarily at the schools during this period, but would not mark their attendance,” he said.

The leader of the striking employees was scheduled to address the media at a local hotel in the Residency Road area of the city, but as the mediapersons and the employees’ leaders reached there, police swiftly moved in and disallowed the entry of the striking employees into the hotel.

The media conference was later held at a hotel in the Jawahar Nagar area of the city, one km away from city centre Lal Chowk.

“It is not just the question of 4.5 lakh striking employees. It involves the livelihood of five million people in the state whose survival depends on the government employees directly,” the union leader said.

Highly placed sources here told IANS: “The chief minister has sought a list of the striking employees’ leaders who would be dismissed from service if the employees did not return to work within the next two days.”

The striking employees have been demanding payment of arrears of their hiked salaries as recommended by the sixth Pay Commission and enhancement of retirement age from the present 58 to 60 years.

The government has now decided to consider the demands of the employees only after they return to their duties.