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Half-day strike against bonus cut

Calcutta, Sept. 23: Nine unions of state government employees will go on a half-day’s pen down strike on Friday under the banner of the West Bengal Government Employees’ Union (Navaparjai) to protest the bonus rollback but the CPM-controlled State Co-ordination Committee will stay out.

The employees will hold a convention in the city on October 4, demanding the payment of “full bonus”. Today, they demonstrated inside Writers’ Buildings. Security arrangements were beefed up to ensure that the demonstrators could not enter the VIP corridor.

They shouted slogans from outside the collapsible gates segregating the area.

The union has sought appointments with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and finance minister Asim Dasgupta to discuss the issue.

The cash-strapped government had announced on Thursday that the bonus and festival advance for its 10-lakh odd employees would be halved. Attributing the decision to severe financial constraints, the finance minister had urged the employees, teachers and others to co-operate.

But the general mood of the employees at Writers’ is against the government. “The provision of 8.33 per cent minimum bonus has been made in the Bonus Act. How can the government reduce it on its own' We shall stick to our demand, come what may,” said union spokesperson Sameer Majumdar.

The co-ordination committee is faced with an embarrassing situation at the moment. Its leaders are saying in private that the government should have talked to the unions before making the announcement.

However, joint secretary of the committee Jyotiprasad Basu told reporters the Left Front government had been increasing facilities for its employees for the past 25 years. “We appreciate the special situation and will co-operate with the government. I believe the other unions will also refrain from going for an agitation,” Basu said.

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