With no sign of employees on strike relenting,the state government on Tuesday invoked Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA),which makes the ongoing strike 100 per cent illegal.
The state would now take strong action against anyone who tries to obstruct public services, said Rajiv Kumar,Principal Secretary in the state Appointments Department.
The invoking of ESMA comes amid renewed threat from the state government employees to shut-down all the emergency services as well, if their demands pay and perks similar to those of central government employees are not met. The decision also follows the Allahabad High Courts directive to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary to hold talks with the striking employees at the earliest and ensure that the governments services,including essential services,were not affected.
The court also said legal action could be initiated against striking employees if the essential services continued to be disrupted.
A Division Bench of Justices Sheo Kumar Singh and Pradeep Kumar Singh Baghel passed the order while hearing a PIL filed by Ajay Pandita,a social worker based in Allahabad. The PIL has been filed through counsels Acharya Rajesh Tripathi and Chandu Tripathi.
Chandu Tripathi said: Our main prayer before the court is that the strike being resorted to by the state government employees of various departments was affecting service delivery as a result of which many people were facing problems. Even essential services were now getting affected.
Therefore,we had prayed before the court for a direction to the Principal Secretary (Personnel) and the Chief Secretary to take necessary action in this regard so that the services can resume.
Tripathi added that the main contention before the court in the PIL was that the striking employees neither had moral authority nor was it their constitutional or fundamental right to resort to strike.
Their service conditions,as per Uttar Pradesh Government Services Conduct Rules,1956,say they should not resort to strike or any such disruptive activities, he said.
Several lakh state government employees,demanding removal of anomalies in their salary,have been on strike since November 12. The initial talks between them and the top officials have not resulted in any breakthrough.
The employees of government hospitals have decided to join the strike since Monday.