Striking Uttar Pradesh employees unrelenting, defy ESMA

Lucknow, Nov 20 (IANS) The striking Uttar Pradesh government employees continued their strike for the ninth day Wednesday, even after the state government invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).

Firming up their stand, employee unions said they were ready to face the consequences of the strike and the ESMA promulgation, slammed the government for not initiating a dialogue with them.

Rajya Karmachari Sanyukt Parishad president Hari Kishore Tiwari said that they will stick to their agitation plan.

Meanwhile, the striking employees also announced that they will boycott the pulse polio immunization drive that begins Nov 24.

The Lab Technician Association joined the strike Wednesday and said they will now also stall emergency services. Its president Suresh Rawat said the lab technicians were extending support to the strike and would not relent till the demands of the state employees were met.

Rajya Karmachari Sangh president Ajay Singh slammed the Akhilesh Yadav government in the state for false claims that there was a rift within the employees' unions.

"The state machinery is spreading rumours to weaken the movement, but they will fail miserably," Ajay Singh told IANS.

The unions also criticised the government for invoking the ESMA and pointed out that the Allahabad High Court directed the state government to initiate a dialogue with the striking employees, but it chose the path of conflict.

Bharatiya Janata Party state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak took on the Akhilesh Yadav government, alleging that it was "getting confrontationist when a dialogue should have been initiated".

Officials said the state government was weighing options of cracking down on the striking employees.

"We are carefully exploring options, but we do not rule out lodging FIRs and arrest of some leaders, specially after the ESMA has been invoked," an official said.