Unionism in all the professional fields has a long history and importance, basically to address common issues usually pertaining to employees with respect to their service conditions and employees rights. These have been resolved by their respective employees unions, after taking them up with higher authorities. Jammu and Kashmir is the state where unionism has played and is playing a more crucial role, as the employees in state are subjected to various disparities and inequalities especially with respect to their payment of wages There were various trade union leaders who have proved their mettle in the unionism after achieving the due rights of employees and have later tried to start their career in politics.
History is witness to the fact that trade unionism has always remained non-political in nature. However, some leaders joined politics after complete resignation from their basic membership of trade unions; it is all about their personal decisions and the unions have nothing to do with that.
The debarment of rights to various cadres of employees of the state has a reason of financial insufficiency in the state due to decade’s long dispute in Jammu and Kashmir. The situations of losing precious lives, infrastructure and government assets arise here frequently day in and the day out. With the result the state has been financially victimized due to the huge loss of resources, expenditures on re-establishment of infrastructure and huge funds spent on security purposes arising due to unrest. Not only has that but the state had a huge loss of revenue because the business sector in the state has remained underdeveloped.
The financial crises have always remained here in Jammu and Kashmir with the result employees have borne the brunt of various salary related issues and service conditions; that is why this kind of unionism has remained priority for employees. The unions, associations and organisations of employees have been always seen, up with arms against the authorities with their innumerable issues. Unionism has been only the weapon of employees used to address all the issues of employees. It has bridged the communication from an employee to authorities. But unions have gone through hard and difficult course of struggles to achieve their legitimate rights.
History is witness also to the fact that no issue of government employees in the state has gotten resolved without a proper intervention of forum representatives of employees or without going through a series of protests. There were the issues of implementing the benefits of 6th pay commission, the 7th pay commission , enhancement of retirement age, various issues pertaining to regularization of employees, pay anomalies and so on which were settled only after the intervention of unions and their peaceful protests.
The recent development of trade union to settle the issue of thousands of teachers who were debarred from implementation of 7th pay commission benefits and the timely releasing of their salaries is a case in point. Pertinently, they were regular state government employees recruited under a state based scheme under a proper order entitling them to be given every benefit after five years of tenure. But, mismanagement of successive regimes in the state and poor financial position of state compelled the government to debar them from their deserved benefits.
Unfortunately some unemployed youth, having no awareness about recruitment rules of Rehbar-e-Taleem Teachers (ReT’s) , staged protests recently against the said government decision and created a fuss. But, they hardly know the fact that their recruitment and regularisation was due and predefined according to the government order no. 396- Edu of 2000, but Jammu and Kashmir being financially unsound state, had dragged teachers to streets to fight for their rights. Thank God, the chronic issue was finally addressed after the teachers unions staged countless protests.
Employees have got a right to highlight their issues in a peaceful way; so unionism has a role to play. However keeping in view the personal interests of many trade union leaders, who after serving the employees in trade unions chose to serve the people politically and join politics after giving up the trade unions, the people at large need not assume that there is a link between trade unionism and politics., However, keeping in view the diverse political opinions of employees , unionism has always followed a protocol to remain totally non-political in nature. Moreover, the government employee is supposed to remain politically neutral and not to promote any political organisation while within the ambit of any department of government as an employee.
— The author can be reached at: Azadhussainganie9@gmail.com