Taking a tough stance against indiscriminate strikes in the state, the Uttarakhand High Court has directed the state to prohibit such strikes in certain departments like that of education, public health, transport service, public works department, irrigation and revenue.
The court also directed the state to consider invoking the ‘No Work No Pay’ principle in the larger public interest.
The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Manoj Tiwari passed several such directions in a suo motu PIL heard by the court after taking cognizance of a letter highlighting the tendency of employees of the state to resort to strikes without any genuine cause.
The court noted-
”We can take judicial notice of the fact that teachers are also resorting to strikes in the State of Uttarakhand vitiating the academic atmosphere. The more alarming is the factum of the Doctors and the paramedical staffs going on strikes, putting the life of thousands of citizens at peril.
According to the statement made by learned Chief Standing Counsel, the employees of the Electricity Department as well as Corporation including all the public undertakings, owned and controlled by the State Government, are also resorting to indiscriminate strikes.
Resorting to strike by the employees of Electricity Department, including other Corporations, puts the larger segment of society to innumerable difficulties. The medical health services, electricity, water as well as transportation fall within the ‘essential services’. These are to be maintained at every cost.”
The State of Uttarakhand has adopted the Uttar Pradesh (Recognition of Service Associations) Rules, 1979 entirely. The court said that according to the said rules, since employees have been given a right to form federations and confederations, they have a duty to maintain essential services.
The Advocate General drew the court’s attention to the Uttar Pradesh Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1966. According to the said Act, it is the duty of the state government to ensure that there is no indiscriminate strike by the employees of the state government, public undertakings owned or controlled by the state government to maintain calm and peace in the state.
The court also noted that it is the duty of the state government to listen to genuine grievances of the employees from time to time.
Finally, the court directed the state government to prohibit strikes in certain essential services under Section 3 of the Uttar Pradesh Essential Services Maintenance Act and it to withdraw recognition of service association in case employees resort to illegal strikes.
The state has also been directed to set up Grievance Redressal Committee within eight weeks in order to address genuine grievances of employees.