VIJAYAWADA: The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday came up with a few changes in the implementation of the 11th Pay Revision Commission (PRC) in a bid to avert the proposed indefinite strike by state’s employees and teachers from Monday, February 7.
The government got a shot in its arm with the high court making it clear that the former was at liberty to act as per the statute in the event of the employees proceeding with the strike plan. The HC also expressed serious concern over employees gathering in Vijayawada in large numbers in defiance of the Covid norms.
By evening, the cabinet sub-committee renewed its dialogue with the employee leaders following advice from Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy to explore possibilities of enhancing the financial benefits to the government staff.
According to sources, the sub-committee comprising Ministers Rajendranath Reddy and Botsa Satyanarayana and chief secretary Sameer Sarma expressed a readiness to change the HRA slabs and provide more benefit to the pensioners aged above 70.
The employees’ leaders sought some time to discuss the fresh offers from the government side.
The HC bench comprising Justices Praveen Kumar and Manmadha Rao, which was hearing a PIL filed against the strike, observed that employees should keep in mind the existing Covid situation. They must realise that their actions like street shows would pose a threat not only to themselves but others as well.
When advocate general Sriram informed the court that the government had not permitted large gatherings, the court observed that the government should take all steps to curb any illegal activity and ensure the smooth functioning of the government. Act as per law, the court asked the government. The court, thereon, adjourned the matter to Feb 10.
Meanwhile, the chief minister held a series of discussions with officials and cabinet colleagues on the impact of the proposed strike. Sources said a proposal for invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) was discussed, to ensure that the people do not suffer during the pandemic.
The CM said the government would bring under ESMA the services of doctors, medical staff, as also sanitation work, electricity supply and public transport etc if the employees went ahead with their agitation. He asked the sub-committee to hold fresh negotiations with the employees.
Earlier, DGP Gautam Sawang briefed the CM on the Chalo Vijayawada protest in the streets, which witnessed a large gathering of agitating employees. The two discussed the steps to be taken in advance to prevent such mass congregations as these could add to the spread of the pandemic.
The DGP informed Jagan that large numbers of employees reached Vijayawada well ahead of Thursday, which could not be controlled. However, he said the police did try to prevent those arriving in the city on the day of the agitation. The police strictly adhered to the CM’s instructions not to use any force against the employees, the DGP told Jagan.
The chief secretary held a video conference with the collectors of all 13 districts and discussed alternative measures to ensure emergency services are maintained even if the employees struck work....