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Dispur largesse for govt employees

Guwahati, Nov. 8: With panchayat elections just round the corner, the Congress-led government in Assam tonight decided to raise the retirement age of state government employees from 59 to 60 years with effect from December this year.

A decision to this effect was taken after a meeting of representatives of the Sadou Asom Karmachari Parisad (SAKP) with chief minister Tarun Gogoi. The SAKP delegation was led by its president P.K. Bora.

Emerging from the meeting in the chief minister’s chamber, SAKP secretary general Bashab Kalita said Dispur had agreed to fulfil the demand which employees had raised long ago — to increase their retirement age with effect from next month.

A cabinet sub-committee, constituted by Dispur to look into the various demands of the SAKP, had recommended raising the age of retirement.

The government also agreed to constitute a state-level pay commission to look into the demands of the employees’ organisation for a pay package on a par with that of central government employees.

Kalita said the committee, to be constituted by the government, would examine the report of the Central Pay Commission, after it is announced. On the basis of that, it would make similar recommendations to Dispur so that Assam government employees are remunerated on a par with central government employees.

Hailing the government’s decision, Kalita said today’s meeting was “very fruitful” and that it was a major achievement for the SAKP as well as the government in that the employees’ demands have been amicably settled.

“We are grateful to the government that it has agreed to our demands, so that we did not need to resort to any form of agitation. It is a very good gesture on the government’s part,” Kalita said.

Sources in Dispur, however, said the Tarun Gogoi government’s decision was hastened by political compulsions, as it did not wish to face the prospect any kind of agitation by the state’s 4.5-lakh-strong workforce ahead of the panchayat elections.

The government had converted 50 per cent of dearness allowance (DA) and dearness relief (DR) of the employees into dearness pay and dearness pension ahead of the Assembly elections,. The conversion expanded the pay package of state government employees and pensioners by 5.1 per cent. But at that point of time, the government stopped just short of increasing the retirement age, saying it would consider the demand at a later stage.

“As of now, considering the widespread unemployment and other factors, we are not raising the retirement age of government employees. In future, we might consider it,” Gogoi had said then.

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