Stung by the government action against them during the 2003 strike, Tamil Nadu government employees want their unions to place 'reasonable demands' before the government and adopt a non-confrontationist and cordial approach to get concessions, a study has said.
However, a predominant number of the employees do not want to give up their trade union rights, an 'image audit' conducted jointly by Prime Point (PP), a public relations agency, and Public Services International (PSI), the global confederation of public service trade unions, revealed.
Surprisingly, only 10% of the respondents favoured strikes, while 9% supported demonstrations and rallies.
Releasing the study in Chennai on Friday, PP's K Srinivasan and PSI's South Asia sub-regional secretary V Lakshmi told reporters that the 'image audit' of the 'mindset' of the employees was undertaken in the background of the strike, the dismissal of nearly 200,000 employees and their subsequent reinstatement.
The study obtained responses from 3,000 employees from Chennai, Cuddalore, Vellore and Tiruchirapalli, they said.
Srinivasan and Lakshmi said more than 80% of the respondents suggested getting their demands across through 'reasonable, cordial and united approach without politicisation and without self-interest'.
Eighty-four per cent of the respondents said they participated in union activities 'willingly'. And 78% did not favour any political affiliations of employees' unions because unions with political affiliations take decisions based on their political alliances.
Seventy-four per cent of respondents supported agitation programmes like strikes even though the Supreme Court had banned them.
A majority of the respondents said public support for their union activities was 'only marginal (just above neutral)', and nearly 85% desired to have a single union under a single banner, the study said adding 89% felt 'government recognition' was needed for the unions.
However, respondents were divided on support to unrecognised unions, with 44% in favour and 54% against.
During the course of the study and the draft report discussion, PSI briefed Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa about some of the findings. The chief minister convened a meeting of various union leaders and had a detailed discussion during the middle of October. "Besides, she also re-conferred recognition to various unions and withdrew earlier orders derecognising them," Srinivasan and Lakshmi claimed.