Ahmedabad, Sept. 27: Work in most government offices in Gujarat came to a standstill today with nearly six lakh employees taking casual leave to press for full implementation of the sixth pay commission's recommendations.
This is the first time since Narendra Modi came to power 12 years ago that such a huge number of state government employees have taken mass leave, that too at a time Assembly elections are round the corner.
The Sachivalaya Karamchari Sangh, which represents the 2,200 secretariat employees, did not join the agitation, so work went on as usual at the seat of power.
The Gujarat State Employees Co-ordination Committee, an umbrella organisation of nine federations, had given the call for the one-day agitation after the state government refused to concede its demand. Its president Vishnu Patel described the agitation as "successful".
He said all primary schoolteachers, health workers, fourth-class staff and panchayat and civic body employees joined the protest.
The employees have also demanded withdrawal of the cases filed against their union leaders and revocation of the transfers of union officials. The government has refused, saying there cannot be preconditions for talks.
The government today declared the mass leave "unauthorised", saying absence would be considered "a break in service" and truant employees would not receive allowances.
Patel dismissed the threat as "the usual pressure tactics" and said it would not work.
"The employees will not succumb to pressure," he said. "Our deadline ended yesterday and the government did not pay heed to our demands. It has been promising so many things but has not implemented the sixth pay panel's recommendations though the employees have been agitating for six months."