Some of our comrades were pointing out that if salary cut is imposed on strikers, then a good amount will be lost for the three days strike from 1st to 3rd December strike and it is sometimes difficult to convince the workers. Then all of a sudden I remembered the 1960 General Strike of Central Government Employees, 1968 one day strike and many other strikes in which thousands of employees were arrested, dismissed, terminated, suspended and punished harshly. Nobody was worried about wage loss or dies-non. They were sacrificing their job itself to protect the larger interests of the workers.
I remember a specific incident in this connection. The Indefinite strike of the CG employees in 1960 had started demanding minimum wage and protesting against low pay recommended by the II CPC. . The Jawaharlal Nehru Government called it as Civil rebellion, imposed the draconian Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance (ESMO) for the first time in Independent India, enabling itself with all powers to suppress the strike through arrests, imprisonment, dismissal, termination etc. Workers were arrested and jailed on the simple charge of strike. Leaders and activists has to go underground to evade arrest to lead the strike.
A newly recruited telephone operator, Com.M.N.Namboodiri, with about three months service in Kannur (Cannanore ) in Kerala was arrested in the midnight of the second day of the strike from the lodge he was staying. He was produced next day in the Magistrate Court. Seeing the innocent young man, the Magistrate asked whether he is on strike and if he will join duty he will be released without any action. Com.Nmboodiri replied: I am on strike as per the call of my union. Till the strike is over, there is no question of my joining duty.
The Magistrate got infuriated and without even any trial issued his order sentencing him to rigorous Imprisonment for six months. He was immediately put in the Central Jail, Cannanore.
After the strike he was taken on bail and the punishment reduced. After many years, in 1996, He contacted me on his retirement day and appreciated the union for continuing the struggle for the workers. By that time he had already become a senior officer in the Department. Still he remembered to contact his union comrades of 40 years back.
This was not a lone incident. Thousands of workers have sacrificed their at the call of the union. We are their inheritors. Loss of pay or dies-non will not stop us from going on strike.