Andhra Pradesh government employees went on a protest march in Vijayawada on Thursday, opposing the state’s recent pay revision, PTI reported. Protest leaders have warned of intensifying the agitation.

State government employees, teachers and pensioners defied restrictions and joined the “Chalo Vijayawada” rally at the BRTS Road in the city after a protest call by the Pay Revision Commission Sadhana Samiti, according to The News Minute.

Some employees dressed up as labourers and farmers and reached Vijayawada, The Hindu reported. The police took some employees into custody in the districts of West Godavari, Krishna and others.

District collectors directed department heads not to grant leave to employees while staff were also served notices not to attend the rally, according to The Hindu. The police gathered details of employees who applied for leave or were absent and also directed travel operators not to provide vehicles to the protesting staff.

Leaders of the Pay Revision Commission Sadhana Samiti called it a “historic struggle” and claimed lakhs of employees, even the police, were supporting the protest, according to PTI.

The commission’s leaders warned that government employees would adopt “non-cooperation” from February 5 and go an indefinite strike from February 7. Employees of the electricity department as well as the State Road Transport Corporation will also reportedly join the indefinite strike.

Why are the employees protesting?

On January 21, the Andhra Pradesh government said the revised pay scale will be implemented and state employees will be paid as per the 11th Pay Revision Commission, according to the Deccan Chronicle.

Unions have been protesting since the last few weeks, demanding that the revised pay scale be scrapped. According to the employee unions, the new pay scale has resulted in their salaries being lowered.

Even as protests were going on, the finance department on January 27 told the treasury department to pay the month’s salary as per the revised pay scale.

Discussions between the employee unions and ministerial committee on February 1 did not lead to any progress, with the government rejecting the demands to roll back the order.