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CM dumps contract jobs
- Buddha pacifies labour hawks but stings permanent force

Purulia, Dec. 29: The government today said it was abandoning its decision to employ people on contract.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said certain compulsions had forced his government to engage employees on contract. 'But I am giving you my word. There will be no more employment on contract,' he told the concluding session of a four-day conference of the Co-ordination Committee, the CPM-dominated government employees' body, here.

Faced with an acute financial crisis, the government had imposed an unofficial ban on recruitment about two years ago. It had hired workers on contract to avoid paying dearness allowance, annual increments and retirement benefits.

The Citu, the CPM's labour arm, and the Co-ordination Committee had been mounting pressure on the government to abolish contract jobs. They had argued that their movement against a hire-and-fire policy in the private sector would suffer if the government followed the policy.

'We came to an understanding with the government that no direct recruitment will be made on contract in the future. All government jobs will be permanent,' said CPM state secretary Anil Biswas.

'We have all along opposed any kind of recruitment on contract. We know that the government was earlier compelled to take in people on contract because of economic reasons. But now we welcome the government's decision against it,' said Citu state general secretary Kali Ghosh.

Bhattacharjee, however, criticised a section of employees for a 'lack of work culture' and asked them not to shirk their duties.

He also sent out a strong message to the permanent employees, saying the performance of temporary workers was good. 'It is true that temporary workers are more responsible and we get better results from them than the permanent ones,' he said.

Citing an example, the chief minister said the 15,000 school teachers taken on a temporary basis fear they would lose their job if they don't work hard. 'So, they perform well. Most of the teachers who are permanent get a lot of money as salary but still they don't come to school on time. There are many schools that are not unlocked on time,' he added.

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