Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra paid homage to martyrs of 1968 strike at Pathankot – Brief History of 1968
AIRF Press:- Last half of 1960s witnessed steep rise in inflation. Steep rise in inflation made central government employees hard to meet both ends. Central Government employees demanded “Need Based Minimum Wage” .Government rejected the demands of the Central Government employees including that for “Need Based Minimum Wage” and refused to refer the same to Board of Arbitration. AIRF had to repeatedly agitate even for grant of DA to ward off erosion wages due to inflation. Even the Das Committee, set up in 1964, gave a very unsatisfactory report on D.A., but still it was hailed by the NFIR as its achievement. AIRF continued its agitation on the issue and finally Gajender Gadkar Commission on DA was set up in 1966-67. But even its report was not implemented by the Government for long till AIRF went on another strike in September 1968. Setting up of Third Pay Commission was also held up – even though it should have been done in 1967(i.e. 10 years after setting of 2nd CPC) – in spite of heavy inflation and all round improvement of wages elsewhere in the Public and Private Sectors.
Consequently, another strike of the Central Government employees and the Railwaymen took place on 19th September, 1968 against the Government’s refusal to accept their genuine demands or to refer the same to board of Arbitration as provided for in the JCM Scheme. AIRF was in the forefront in this strike, but the NFIR backed out even after being a party to the Resolution for the strike in the Joint Action Committee.
In this strike 48,000 Central Government employees were served with notices of termination of service, 4,000 Railway employees were summarily discharged, 7,000 placed under suspension and 8,000 faced trial in different courts of law. 9 persons died in police firing in Pathankot, Bikaner and elsewhere. Most of them were Railwaymen. Leaders of the Central Government employees, including General Secretary of AIRF, went on an indefinite fast in front of the Parliament in New Delhi against this massive victimization. The Government of India was forced to withdraw the discharge notices and consequently all the discharged employees were reinstated in service. Gajendera Gadkar Report on DA was finally implemented from 01.10.1968 and the Third Pay Commission was belatedly setup in 1970 – nearly 13 years after the Second CPC and that too after much struggle by the AIRF.