Ahead of upcoming LokSabha elections, the employees of election department have threatened to launch an indefinite strike if their demands are not met.
The employees had begun two-day pen down strike on January 30 to press for their demands. Election assistants, election naibtehsildars and electoral roll management system operators of J&K election department assembled in Srinagar on Thursday to continue their pen-down strike and protest under the banner of J&K field employees association.
The pen-down strike of staffers came at a time when authorities are campaigning for registration of new electors and preparation of updated electoral roll in view of upcoming parliamentary polls.
The election field staff is working under the superintendence and control of Election Commission of India; prepares and distributes electoral rolls, looks after the facilities to be provided to polling staff and booths.
In J&K, there is no post of election tehsildar. The protestors among other demands, urged authorities to create this post without any further delay. In absence of this post, as per protestors, their work is adversely affected.
Their other demands include removal of pay anomalies which must be brought at par with the revenue department or at par with the election field employees in other states.
Parvaiz Ahmad, a protestor said that they demand meeting of departmental promotion committee to clear their long pending due promotions.
In 2015, authorities downgraded 36 sanctioned posts of senior election assistants to junior assistants as "temporary arrangement for two years." Protestors said that despite repeated assurances from authorities about its revocation, the 2015 order is still in force.
They said they have to work till late evening in offices and don't enjoy any holiday "on verbal directions of authorities." "We demand limit of our office working hours between 10 a.m to 5 p.m and stop forcing employees for routine extra work and work on holidays," said another protestor.
The field employees expressed resentment that despite the recommendations from Chief Secretary, their grievances and long pending demands are yet to be taken for consideration by concerned authorities.
"We once again would like to urge government to meet our demands without any further delay. Recently, government removed pay anomaly of 25000 clerical staff working in different government departments. Our strength is just around 200 but we have been left out," said Parviaz.
They appealed the Governor and Election Commission of India for intervention concerning the "alarming infringement of basic rights of election employees and the difficulties faced by them in J&K state."
"If our reasonable demands are not fulfilled before the upcoming parliamentary or assembly elections, we may be forced to resort to indefinite strike during the election period," they said, adding, "We are giving ten days time to authorities for redressal of our long pending grievances, failing which we will resume pen-down strike and protests."