| Non-gazetted employees on strike in Patna. Telegraph picture |
Patna, Sept. 27: The non-gazetted employees (NGEs) on strike in the state have refused to join work despite the notification for the first phase of Assembly polls being issued on Monday.
Around two lakh employees are supposed to play a major role in election-related work. Their absence may cause a shortage of manpower during the elections.
“We are waging the struggle for a just cause and our members are ready to face any consequence as far as taking this struggle to a logical end is concerned,” Bihar state non-gazetted employees’ federation (BSNGEF) general secretary Rajkishore Rai told The Telegraph on Monday.
He accused the state government of adopting delaying tactics to break the confidence of the striking NGEs and claimed that such moves would bear no fruits.
The BSNGEF general secretary said that the employees on strike were willing to join work provided the state government agreed to enter into a written agreement with the employees, as was done in 2005 when the model code of conduct had come into force while the non-gazetted employees were on strike. They also demanded that they be paid the salary during the strike period as was done in 2005.
A similar situation was witnessed during a 43-day strike by the employees when the last Lok Sabha election dates were announced.
The then chief secretary, K.H. Subramaniam had talks with the striking employees and had entered into a written agreement which was sent to the election commission for approval. Though the commission gave consent to the agreement, it directed the state government that decisions could be implemented only after the model code of conduct was lifted from the state.
The outcome of the agreement was announced as soon as the model code of conduct came to an end and the employees were paid salary for the strike period too, with the approval of the election commission.
It is not that the present regime has not taken steps to hold negotiations with the striking employees but four rounds of negotiations (August 24, September 1, 10 and 22) have failed to produce any result. “Had the government been serious about bringing the strike to an end, it would have taken steps to address the issues raised by employees during the four rounds of talks. Instead, it has chosen to sit silently which has forced us to abstain from work even though the many district administrations have lodged complaints against our members after the model code of conduct came into force,” BSNGEF (Gope faction) general secretary Rambali Singh said. He further said that such actions by the administration indicate that the absence of employees was adversely affecting the election related works.
About 2 lakh NGEs, under the banner of BSNEF and BSNGEF (Gope faction) are on strike since August 23 in support of their various demands, including payment of 34-day (January 7 to February 9, 2009) strike period salary. Other major issues which the employees want to be addressed on priority basis are denial of transport allowances to employees working outside Patna, and lower rates of house rate allowance in comparison to the ones being given to the central government employees.
The NGEs are also demanding financial benefits on the basis of the new pay scale from January 1, 2006 and not April 1, 2007 as had been offered by the state government. In case of retirement benefits, the NGEs are demanding implementation of revised gratuity and pension benefits from the period of January 1, 2006, while the state government is giving this benefit from September 2009.