Monday 23 May 2022
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Government workers cannot call, participate in strikes: Kerala HC

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The Kerala High Court today debarred government employees from participating in the 48-hour nationwide shutdown called by trade unions. It directed the government to issue an order on this immediately.

The court said government employees did not come under the ambit of workers and their participation in the strike is against service rules.

A division bench of Chief Justice S Mani Kumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly, which was hearing a petition of activist Chandrachoodan Nair, observed that government employees’ participation in the strike was illegal. It said these workers would be ineligible for pay for the days they abstain from work.

The court directed the government to declare no work, no pay. Public sector employees absent in such cases were earlier considered to be on leave and given full pay.

Nair had moved the court, asking it to declare the participation of government employees in the strike unconstitutional. He had accused the government of encouraging employees to stay away from work. He had said it would later tweak norms to ensure full salaries.

The court said the government could not pay employees for remaining absent during the strike.

The law department has sought advice from the director-general of prosecutions and is likely to move the Supreme Court against the high court order.

All India Trade Union Congress leader KP Rajendran called the court’s observation “unfortunate”. He said it should have issued directions to the union government and not the “poor” workers.

The strike disrupted normal life in Kerala, where the shutdown was enforced in many places. A magistrate’s vehicle was blocked in the capital. A court later summoned the Pettah station house officer and ordered him to file cases against protestors. A cancer patient was allegedly forced out of an auto-rickshaw in Pappanamcode. Stray incidences of violence and stone- throwing were reported.

Almost all government offices and businesses remained shut. Only 32 out of 4,824 employees reported to work at the secretariat, people aware of the matter said. They included the chief secretary. But rail traffic remained unaffected. The state’s main IT parks also functioned normally. The two-day strike commenced on Sunday at midnight. It will continue till midnight tomorrow.

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