Controversial law targets government employees’ protests in Pak-occupied Jammu & Kashmir

Amendment ordinance in PoJK
Amendment ordinance in POJK (Photo: News Intervention)

Muzaffarabad: An amendment ordinance has been issued under the signature of the President of Pakistan-occupied- Jammu and Kashmir to stop the protest of government employees. According to the ordinance, going on strike, inciting a strike or protest, locking the office, or delaying work will be punishable by dismissal. This Ordinance shall apply to registered and unregistered organisations and associations.

On Tuesday, the President signed the ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir Employees Association (Registration and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance 2023’ sent by the government. This Ordinance has been issued to amend the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Employees Association (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2016.

According to the Ordinance, two sub-sections 3 and 4 have been added to Section 17 of the Act. Apart from this, sub-section 3 has also been added to Section 19.

As per the amendment, in sub-section 3 of Section 17, it is written that “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, misconduct or violation of government orders or instructions or obstructing the functioning of any department of government or other public servants Incitement to a strike, slackening, or marching in protest by any employee shall be considered rebellion and misconduct against the Government, as per Section 2(1) of the said Act and the Government Employees of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Conduct) Rules, 1981. The accused shall be dismissed from the service by the competent authority.”

Sub-section 4 states that “Sub-sections 1, 2, and 3 above shall also apply to employees of self-organised associations that are not registered under this Act.”

According to the ordinance, sub-section 3 will be added after sub-section 2 of Section 19 of the Act, according to which the officer of the department can file a complaint against the organisation, official, or employee, who in this regard is the head of the department concerned. will be authorised by

It should be noted that in February 2016, the Employees Association (Registration and Regulation) Act 2016 was implemented, and all employee organisations were required to obtain registration under this Act within one month. Some employers’ organisations have obtained registration under the Act, while there are many organisations that have not obtained registration under the Act.

According to the above-mentioned act, employee organisations cannot hold any kind of strike, nor can they incite anyone to strike or protest; no organisational work or meeting can be held during office hours; and no employee can be forced to join the organisation. can be done. According to the Act, an organisational official cannot discuss employee problems directly with officers, block office telephones, electricity, or any other facilities, lock the office, talk loudly with an officer, Can’t be rude.

Organisations have the ability to make a written request regarding employee issues, which will be processed departmentally.

Under the said Act, officials of organisations from various departments were dismissed from their jobs in the past on complaints filed by the officers. However, after a long legal battle, those employees were reinstated.

However, now, by amending the Act, the Services Employees Association (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2016 has been declared final, abolishing all other laws and rights to the extent of employee organisations. The amendment clarifies that a strike, protest, disorderly conduct, obstruction of government, protest march, or incitement to protest shall be considered sedition against the government and misconduct notwithstanding the existence of any other law.

In other words, the constitutional right of all citizens to freedom of association, assembly, protest, and expression has been taken away to the extent of government employees.

Earlier in the Act, penalties such as strikes, protests, lockouts, and obstruction of work were prescribed as fines, withholding of salary, and disciplinary action.

The said ordinance has been rejected by political and social organisations, trade unions, and student organisations, who have termed it a black law. According to a press release issued by the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC), this is an act of imposing dictatorship, restricting internationally recognised rights. In this region, the right to trade union was already taken away from the workers; now they are also banned from demanding rights through organisations.

In a press release issued by the spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir National Students Federation, it was said that seven years have passed since this black law came into effect. During these 7 years, no action was taken on the written requests made under this Act on the teachers’ demand for upgradation only. When the teachers were forced to take the path of protest, the government planned to fire the teachers’ leaders and impose a more stringent black law ordinance on all workers.

“We reject this law,” PTUDC’s press release said. Jammu and Kashmir and across Pakistan will struggle to protect and defend the rights of workers and demand that this black law be withdrawn immediately. This is a violation of basic human rights. Workers in this region should be given the right to form a trade union.

The press release of JKNSF said that trade unions and student unions are fundamental rights of workers and students that are being robbed by this ruling elite. Now unconstitutional and inhuman steps are being taken, like taking away basic human rights by imposing more black laws. These tactics of the rulers will not be accepted in any case. There will be a struggle against these black laws at all levels.

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