Protests bring Patiala to virtual standstill

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Jan 04, 2016 21:53 IST
Family members of unemployed linemen protesting against the state government in Patiala on Monday. (Bharat Bhushan/HT Photo)

The city was brought to a virtual standstill on Monday, as two separate protests — by the Unemployed Linemen Union and Contractual Nurses — stalled traffic for several hours on the Upper Mall Road and the Fountain Chowk.

Long jams were witnessed on both the roads till about 2 pm.

Families join stir; 4,000 jobs sought

Members of the unemployed linemen union, along with their family members and several other unions staged a protest outside the main branch of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) on Monday and threatened to go on a hunger strike from Thursday if their demands were not fulfilled within three days.

Around 2,000 linemen, their family members and other union members of PSPCL across the state gathered opposite the PSPCL at the Sheranwala gate.

Raising anti-government slogans for five hours, protesters demanded the immediate appointment of 4,000 linemen, which was promised by the state government in 2011.

Union state president Pirmal Singh said, “The ruling SAD-BJP government in 2011 had released an advertisement for 5,000 posts of linemen in the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), but after scrutiny of documents of all applicants, they gave appointments to only 1,000 people.”

Nurses have threatened to go on an indefinite strike if their services are not regularised. (Bharat Bhushan/HT Photo)

“Instead of accepting our demands, the government has gone on to register false cases on protesting employees over the past few months to suppress their voice. We will continue to protest in support of our demands, till we are given our due,” Singh added.

Other members also claimed that the state government had been claiming that it had not been making any appointments as some cases had been pending with the Punjab and Haryana high court in this regard.

“This stand, however, is false as records show that in February 2013, the high court had made it clear that there was no injunction on linemen recruitment,” a protester claimed, adding that in spite of approaching chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, nothing solid had materialised.

Nurses seek regularisation

More than 200 contractual nurses at the Rajindra Hospital and even the TB Hopsital squatted on the Fountain Chowk between 11am and 1pm on Monday, disrupting normal traffic movement. The crossing serves as a major exit point for traffic moving towards Bathinda.

Nurses and Ancillary Staff Union president Karamjit Kaur said, “In spite of an assurance by the chief minister, more than 500 paramedics have not been given permanent postings.”

She claimed that the matter had been pending since 2012.

“We are scheduled to meet chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on January 18. If our demands are not met, we will go on an indefinite strike. The entire staff of Rajindra Hospital will also go off duty,” she claimed, adding that even as the job remained stressful, their salaries remained low.

Key demands

•Permanent postings for nurses at either the Rajindra Hospital or the TB Hospital

•Linemen claim that they have been seeking appointment letters of 4,000 applicants for the last five years, but the state government had turned a blind eye to their demands

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