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Unions trash Asim claim

Calcutta, Sept. 26: Nine trade unions of state government employees, which will go on a half-day’s pen-down strike at Writers’ Buildings tomorrow protesting the bonus rollback, today disputed finance minister Asim Dasgupta’s claim that only Bengal government employees enjoyed bonus facilities.

The nine unions have organised themselves under the banner West Bengal Government Employees’ Union (Navaparjai).

The CPM-controlled State Co-ordination Committee, which is in an embarrassing position following Dasgupta’s decision to cut this year’s Puja bonus for the employees by 50 per cent, refrained from commenting on Navaparjai’s assertion that several other governments had been paying bonus to their employees.

Quoting from the Fifth Pay Commission’s report, Navaparjai spokesman Sameer Majumdar said while governments like those in Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Orissa did not pay bonus or ex-gratia to their employees, Goa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Assam did.

The report adds: “In the state of Tamil Nadu, ex-gratia is also paid to the officers not covered under the bonus scheme. In Assam, the eligibility limit for payment of ad hoc bonus is Rs 4,500.”

The union supporters have been organising regular dharnas inside Writers’ Buildings since the finance minister declared on September 19 that the government’s 10 lakh employees would receive only 50 per cent bonus this year. Attributing the decision to financial crunch, Dasgupta had urged the employees to co-operate.

Dasgupta’s decision did not go down well with the Left Front partners. CPI minister Nandagopal Bhattacharjee and RSP minister Biswanath Chowdhury criticised the finance minister for making the announcement without taking the Left Front partners into confidence.

However, co-ordination committee secretary Smarajit Roy Chowdhury said: “There will be no impact if Navaparjai supporters go on a strike tomorrow. Had they that much of confidence, they could have called a pen-down strike in all government offices in the state. They have chosen Writers’ for media coverage.”

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