Taking cognizance of a letter highlighting the tendency among employees of the State of Uttarakhand to resort to strikes without any genuine cause, the court asked the government to take stern action against employees going illegally on strike and inconveniencing people.
The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Manoj Tiwari held that "strike causes inconvenience to the general public at large. The indiscriminate strikes impede the growth of the state. Thousands and thousands of persons are put to inconvenience during the period of strikes."
The high court also took notice of the fact that teachers are also resorting to strikes. Doctors and the paramedical staff also go on strikes, putting the life of thousands of citizens at peril.
The electricity department and public undertakings, owned and controlled by the state government, are also resorting to indiscriminate strikes. This puts the larger segment of society to innumerable difficulties, the court said.
The medical health services, electricity, water as well as transportation fall within the 'essential services'. These are to be maintained at every cost. The employees cannot be permitted to be on strikes perpetually, it said.
The high court held that it is also the duty of the state to redress the genuine grievances raised by the employees from time to time.
No employees in Uttarakhand, serving under the state government as well as public undertakings, including local authorities, shall resort to illegal strike, it said.
Thus, the court directed the state to prohibit strikes in certain employments by way of publication, including Education, Public Health, Transport Service, Public Works Department, Irrigation Department, Revenue Department etc, as per the provisions of law.
In case the employees resort to illegal strikes, the government is authorised to withdraw the recognition of service association or to impose penalty, as provided on any person, who goes or otherwise takes part in any illegal strike, the court said.
The employees cannot hold the entire system to ransom. The employees, who resort to illegal strikes, are not entitled to salary. It shall be open to the state government to order break-in-service of the employees resorting to illegal strikes, it said.
The period of willful absence can also be declared as dies non, meaning no work no pay.
All the Service Association Federations shall not go on illegal strikes or go slow practice with a view to disturb or obstruct the smooth functioning of the government, the high court said.
The state government has been directed to constitute Redressal Grievance Committees presided over by the secretary or head of department of the respective department with one nominee of the recognised association to address the genuine grievance(s) of the employees, within eight weeks from today. This Committee shall meet after every 3 months.
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