Chennai: The State government banning the participation of its employees in the general strike called by Central Trade Unions on March 28 and 29 came as a bolt from the blue for many, who perceive the move as a severe blow to the national level opposition unity that was being slowly built in the run up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Since the DMK had earlier supported the nation-wide general strike, called to press for a 14-point charter of demands, with the party’s general secretary Duraimurugan speaking in favour of it and the LPF, the trade union affiliated to the DMK, being part of the movement to rein in the BJP government from going reckless in its privatization bids, the letter from the Chief Secretary on Friday surprised people.
The letter addressed to all the government department heads and the district collectors said, ‘information has been received that the members of an unrecognized service association in the State has decided to participate in the proposed All-India Strike.’
The Joint Platform of central trade unions, in which the LPF is a part, had called for the strike accusing the Narendra Modi government of being ‘anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-national policies’ and had even given a call to the people to support the agitation.
As the various trade unions like IMTUC, AITUC, CITU, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC are basically affiliated to different political parties that are opposed to the BJP, the proposed strike was also seen a means to lay the foundation for an opposition unity at the national level.
But State Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu’s letter makes it clear that the government had taken a firm stand on the issue as it warned its employees of serious consequences if they took part in the strike and also told them that they cannot take leave on those two days, other than for medical purposes.
Invoking the ‘no work, no pay’ norm, the letter said that those taking part in the strike would stand to lose their salaries for those days besides attracting departmental action as ‘strike or threat to strike or participation in strike or demonstration’ went against the conduct rules of government employees.
The Chief Secretary had given clear instructions to the department heads to ensure that not only all employees attended office without fail but also reported for duty on time as they had been asked to submit attendance details by 10.30 am to the higher ups.
Sources said that the State government was keen on ensuring that normal life was not affected by the strike and hence issued the orders to prevent disruption of essential services.
The Central Trade Unions that had roped in private sector employees and urged State government employees all over the country to support the strike were expecting the participation of 25 crore people all over the country and 50 lakh people in Tamil Nadu.
Now that the government had issued the orders banning participation of its employees in the strike, the support for the movement against the Union Government in the State would be visibly low during the protests as the State is said to have over 10 lakh government staff....