There is an Industrial Strike on 28th February, 2012, called by trade unions. CITU told that this strike would be converted to a national general strike.
Now, a Govt. Order released by the Chief Secretary, Sri Samar Ghosh, stating that, no leave will be granted for absence on that day i.e. 28th February.Several trade unions had called an industrial strike next Tuesday but the CPM-backed Citu had said yesterday it would be converted to a general strike in Bengal. The CPM, flush with the success of the Brigade rally, had also hinted at a showdown with the government, saying the “next step” would be to make the strike a success.
The government order barring leave before a general strike is unparalleled in Bengal where shutdowns and disruptions enjoyed the barely concealed blessings of the administration when the Left was in power. Leave used to be cancelled only during emergencies such as natural disasters.
The order, issued by chief secretary Samar Ghosh, stated that all precautionary measures would be taken to ensure that no violation of law and order and untoward incidents took place.
“All state government offices will remain open on that day and all government employees should report for duty. Government employees will not be granted any leave on that day,” the order said.
During Left rule, the state government used to instruct all employees to attend office on a bandh day but, at the same time, include a provision to allow employees who failed to attend office to take leave.
For instance, in an order issued on September 6, 2010, before a general strike called by trade unions, the Left administration had said: “Government employees who don’t attend office on that day (strike day) will be required to apply for leave in accordance with rules.”
Asked what the government will do in the case of employees who cannot report for work on February 28 for a genuine reason, Ghosh said: “The reasons of absence will be treated according to the merit of the case and, accordingly, the government will take its decision.”
He added: “Leave cannot be granted as a matter of right just because they have leave. This principle is there in the service rules already and employees should be aware of this.”
A senior bureaucrat said it was “obvious” that in the case of a medical emergency or if no transport was operating in a particular area on that day, a leave application would be treated as “legitimate”.
“If any employee submits a casual leave or a medical leave application showing proper reasons, the government will grant leave. What we do not want to encourage is an employee using the strike as an excuse to stay away from work,” the official added.
He added that in case a person had applied for leave before today’s order and it had already been granted, the clearance would stand.
The CPM-dominated co-ordination committee has opposed the order and dubbed it “illegal”. “The government cannot deny employees one of their basic rights. We will not attend office on February 28. The state government can take whatever action it wishes to against us. We will fight it out on the appropriate platform,” said Anutosh Sanyal, a co-ordination committee leader.
Asked about the order’s legal implications, senior lawyer Gitanath Ganguly said: “There is no emergency or natural disaster in the state now. So, an employee has the right to take leave if he has a genuine reason for doing so.”
The decisive factor will be “genuineness” — something that will be a headache for the government to verify and the employee to establish.
Ironically, a showdown may unwittingly help Mamata to hold aloft her “governance” plank, the disenchantment with which is seen as the principal reason behind the huge turnout at the CPM rally that has emboldened the Opposition party after months of inertia. The chief minister may also use the tough stance against the strike to send a positive signal to industry, which is yet to be enthused by the new government.
Industries minister Partha Chatterjee told The Telegraph this evening: “The order issued today reflects the government’s and the Trinamul’s determination to foil the strike. We believe that strikes and bandhs hamper development. We oppose it tooth and nail. We have not given a call for a bandh in the last two years. We will start a campaign and hold public meetings opposing the general strike.”
The Trinamul-backed United State Government Employees’ Federation said it had submitted letters to the chief minister asking the government to make arrangements for “willing employees” to spend the night of February 27 either at Writers’ Buildings or somewhere nearby.
Partha Chattopadhyay, a core committee member of the union, said: “Only this can ensure that the strike is foiled. Some employees are bound to face problems reaching office. But we support today’s order.”
Another minister said the Trinamul was also determined to ensure that the CPM is unable to make the general strike a success.
(With inputs from The Telegraph)