Jammu and Kashmir government holds talks with striking employeesFebruary 18th, 2009 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS
Jammu/Srinagar, Feb 18 (IANS) A five-member team of Jammu and Kashmir cabinet ministers led by Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather Wednesday began talks with 30 members of the joint coordination committee of striking government employees who are demanding the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.
The strike continued on the third day Wednesday as around 400,000 employees stayed off work, asking for hike in salaries, enhancement of the retirement age from 58 to 60 years and regularisation of services of thousands of temporary employees.
An official spokesman said that the government team, which includes Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar, Industries Minister Surjit Singh Salathia, Public Health Engineering Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din and School Education Minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, began talks with the striking employees in Jammu.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Tuesday evening announced the cabinet sub-committee and break the stalemate with the employees since the strike has paralysed the functioning of the administration.
Before the talks began, leaders of the employees’ agitation said they will not settle for anything short of acceptance of their demands.
“Given the government’s delaying tactics we are likely to announce the fourth phase of our agitation today, which could hit essential services as well,” warned Khurshed Alam, president of the employee’s joint coordination committee.
Though chief secretary S.S. Kapoor has been maintaining that the government is keen on resolving the impasse with employees through negotiations, he did not rule out imposition of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) if the talks failed.
“We need around Rs.38 billion to pay the arrears and another Rs.13 billion annually. The matter has been taken up with the central government and we are vigorously pursuing it. The employees need to give us more time for the implementation of the sixth pay commission (recommendations),” said Rather.
“We may have to take stern action against the employees if they don’t stop their agitation,” the minister added.