This strong provision notwithstanding, the Left-sponsored trade employees trade unions have embarked on this strike claiming that the proposed bill is not transparent and there are provisions to make it cover employees who had joined service from 2005 onwards, but the government claims that this fear is unfounded and manipulated, and there is no room for any concern if the scheme is implemented.
Kerala government sets aside 80 percent of its income for meeting the pension and salary bills of employees and the remaining is what is meant for other pressing priorities of the government like infrastructure, R & D, industrialization, health, education and the like.
The government finds it difficult to go any further with this income expenditure distribution, and if followed further, there is going to be huge financial burden on taxpayers and the state would not be able to keep pace with the needs of the time.
It is this state of affairs that makes the Oomman Chandy Government go for contributory pension plan which works on the principle that each employee needs to contribute certain amount of money from his/ her salary every month and the government would be contributing equal amount of money in the pension fund, and the total will be invested in attractive stocks for which three new generation banks stand selected.
This investment side of the plan is the biggest threat, the striking employees claim. But the government, on the other hand, claims that Kerala is the only state that has not absorbed this scheme, and the developmental leaps other states experience are due to the fact that other governments do not suffer from the pressure exerted by pensions and other service related rewards the Kerala government employees enjoy.
Anyhow, Monday being the seventh day is going to witness intensified exercises from the agitating parties to make some positive strides, which, in many people’s opinion, is not going to happen. The regular rise in the attendance in government offices from day one of the strike shows that more employees are going to report to duty in the coming days. This is because there is no scope for any government level discussion. Unlike in other strikes, this time, the Chief Minister Mr. Chandy made it clear before the striking parties that he is not going to talk to them, as this strike is unwanted and undemocratic.
The home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan too seems to have taken a strong stance which says, his government is not going to suppress the strike in any way but it would do everything possible to see that all the employees who report to duty are given protection.
As of today, there had been some sporadic incidents in which striking employees tried to interrupt some offices which had tried to work as usual. But, these incidents had been in the Left strongholds like Kannur and Kozhikode, and in the capital city Trivandrum. Barring these, the rest of the state seems to be moving back to normal work.
Interestingly, statistics being released by the government agencies say that only a few thousand employees are off duty and the state is functioning normally, whereas the striking organizations claim that the number of staff reporting to duty dwindles every day. However, the general impression of the public, who normally get affected by this strike the most, is that the strike is a failure and there will be unilateral withdrawal in the coming days. That is, the strike has already started losing its steam.
The people of Kerala have seen it happen many times before, but with a difference that there would be some talks between the government and striking parties, and there would be some mysterious assurances on matters related to the concerns that made the strike a reality.
This time, there is not going to be any such meaningful talk as the Chief Minister was quoted as saying: “I don’t want to talk to them”. Then, how are these striking parties going to call it a day? The first two or three days of the week would paint a clear picture.
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