Chandigarh, September 5, 2023: As per media reports, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has made it clear to the striking employees (Patwaris) that they could lose their jobs if they stop using them, causing harassment to the people of Punjab.
“Enough is enough. You are receiving up to Rs 1.5 lakh per month as salary and still resort to striking every day. If the demands are legitimate, they should communicate them to us. They seem to believe that by announcing a pen-down strike, they can inconvenience the common people, which would reflect poorly on me. Why then can’t I tell them not to return after the pen-down strike is over? I challenge them to put their pens down,” Bhagwant Mann said.
According to the news published in India Today, over 2,000 revenue officials, including Patwaris and Revenue Kanungos, went on a pen-down strike on Friday following the registration of a corruption case against two revenue officials in Sangrur.
The chief minister proceeded to initiate the recruitment process for 2,037 vacant posts in the revenue department and made biometric attendance mandatory for the striking employees.
“We have numerous unemployed youths who are better educated than you and are willing to use that pen. Some may think I’m a newcomer, but I am well-informed and not inexperienced. I have keen insight, enabling me to identify those causing trouble for the people and where,” Mann stated.
“Those threatening a pen-down strike have hired proxy employees, paying them Rs 10,000 while they work as real estate agents. Consider this an open warning. I stand with the people of Punjab, and I will not show leniency toward anyone who harasses the common people or embezzles government funds. Stringent action will be taken against them,” he added.
The Chief Minister pointed out that”those threatening a pen-down strike receive salaries ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh per month yet shamelessly resort to striking.
“They argue that their colleague was arrested while accepting a bribe. I say God has bestowed upon you a pen; you should be grateful. Your pen should serve the livelihood of the common people. Do you intend to cause trouble for them with a pen-down strike? I have explicitly informed them that if they strike work, they may lose their pens permanently. The state government will be fully informed,” Mann emphasised.
The Punjab government Is determined to quash the employee strike and has invoked ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) to ensure that the general public does not suffer due to strikes.
Meanwhile, the Punjab State Ministerial Staff Union (PSMSU) burned copies of the ESMA on Monday in protest against the state government’s decision to invoke the law.
“The Punjab government invoked ESMA to prevent us from protesting against them. We are burning copies of this law in every district of the state to protest against the decision,” said Navvarinder Singh, President of the Mohali unit of PSMSU.
Navvarinder Singh stated that their protest would continue from September 11-15. PSMSU members would display black badges to demonstrate their discontent. Additionally, they plan to protest in front of MLAs between September 28-30, submit their demands, and if denied a meeting with the chief minister, hold a pen-down strike from October 5-10.
One of the prominent demands made by the striking Punjab employees is the reinstatement of the Old Pension Scheme.
“The government came to power promising to revive the old pension scheme. They assured immediate implementation after taking office, yet even after 1.5 years in power, they have not fulfilled this promise,” Navvarinder Singh remarked. He noted that the Old Pension Scheme had not been implemented in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, where the Congress formed the government after AAP in Punjab but immediately implemented the scheme.
“We plan to hold an employee protest in New Delhi next month to expose the Punjab government. The government seems to be entangled in bureaucratic procedures. Implementing the Old Pension Scheme appears to be a distant dream,” Navvarinder Singh stated.
The employee union leaders also demanded the payment of arrears from the 6th Pay Commission, which was implemented in 2016. Additionally, instalments of dearness allowance have been withheld.