| The employees during the hunger strike on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Dhubri, Oct. 18: Employees of all municipal boards in Assam staged a hunger strike today to press for their demands.
In Dhubri, the strike was staged on the premises of the municipal board office from 10am to 4pm.
The employees are demanding salaries according to the revised payscale approved by the state government, provincialisation of municipal employees on the lines of those of panchayati raj institutions and release of benefits for retired employees.
The Dhubri Municipal Employees Union alleged that though the government had been releasing funds to the deputy commissioners of the district, they were not getting the revised salaries since 2011.
Alleging discrimination, the union alleged that the extra funds were going into the deputy commissioners’ coffers. However, the Nalbari district administration and a few other districts have been releasing salaries according to the revised payscale.
The union said nearly 100 retired employees in the state were not being paid benefits though they were facing acute financial crisis.
The general secretary of the union, Subhash Chandra Das, who had retired long ago and is suffering from cancer, alleged that almost all the employees who had retired years ago did not get any benefit, including their salaries, at the time of retirement. “Many retired employees and their family members, including Debesh Bhattacharjee’s wife, died without treatment. Gopal Das, Gurudas Choudhury and I are suffering from cancer. Manju Dutta is bedridden after a cerebral attack but the government has not released our legitimate benefits yet.”
He said the president of the chairmen’s association, Ajit Kumar Baruah, has been opposing the implementation of the revised payscale, citing development work.
The union also alleged inaction on part of the government despite a verdict passed by Justice A.K. Basu of Industrial Tribunal of Assam in 1972 to pay the employees’ salary and other benefits.