Sept. 12: The apex organisation of government employees in Assam, the Sadou Asom Karmachari Parishad (SAKP), today warned of an uproar if the Tarun Gogoi ministry attempted to lower the retirement age applicable to state government employees.
The threat came a day after minister of state for finance Nilamoni Sen Deka left for New Delhi with a bagful of proposals, including a three-year reduction in the present retirement.
The secretary-general of the organisation, Charan Deka, said the government would do well not to “impose such an anti-employee move”. The SAKP has long been demanding an increase in the retirement age from 58 to 60 years.
Hoping that the Centre would reject outright the state government’s proposal to reduce the retirement age, Charan Deka said, “The BJP-led ministry at the Centre is against the idea of antagonising the government workforce, which is why it has been regularly releasing dearness allowance. However, both the erstwhile AGP-led government and the present dispensation have shown little concern for the employees.”
The SAKP leader said “irrational moves” like the one made by the Gogoi government would lead to chaos. He threatened to launch an agitation if the state government accepted the Centre’s proposal to freeze dearness allowance.
“We expected the state government to reject the Central government’s directive to freeze dearness allowance. However, going by the statements made by the minister of state for finance, the state government appears ready to disburse only basic pay to its employees if the Centre does likewise,” Charan Deka said.
The minister had told The Telegraph before leaving for the capital that his task was to convince the Union finance ministry that state government employees would not accept only the basic pay as long as Central government employees continued to get dearness allowance. He promised to formally voice Assam’s opposition to the proposal — actually a condition set by the Centre for a Rs 2,000-crore loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) — at the meeting of finance ministers.
In Delhi, Nilamoni Sen Deka said a loan from ADB was required to translate Assam’s development plans into reality. He said the state government was trying to reach an agreement with the Centre on the conditions for the loan. The Centre is the guarantor of all loans taken by states from overseas lending agencies.
The SAKP secretary-general said the government workforce was already disillusioned with the Gogoi ministry and expected it to adopt more anti-employee policies.
“The Congress came to power by promising to solve our problems. But immediately after taking over from the AGP, it showed its true colours by accepting the anti-employee recommendations of the H.N. Das Committee on Fiscal Reforms. The Congress should keep in mind that the AGP was shunted out because it adopted anti-employee policies in the name of fiscal reforms.”