Imphal, Nov. 8: A section of employees in Manipur’s engineering department stopped work today in protest against non-payment of salaries for several months. The resentment is rising especially as Ningol Chakkouba, one of the biggest festivals in the state, is approaching.
The work-charged employees (workers whose posts are not sanctioned) of the five engineering departments of public works, public health engineering, power, minor irrigation and irrigation and flood control have not been paid for 17 months, B. Guanamani Sharma, secretary of a coordinating body of the engineering departments, said.
The employees held a sit-in inside their office complex at Khoyathong here during office hours today after a memorandum submitted to chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who is also the finance minister, on September 15 this year failed to evoke any response from the government.
“Non-payment of salaries for 17 months has affected our financial condition. We are finding it difficult to maintain families, meet social obligations and pay our children’s school fees,” Sharma said.
The immediate concern is Ningol Chakkouba, which is an expensive affair. Parents and brothers invite married daughters and sisters for a grand feast and send them off to their husband’s home with presents. The festival falls on November 15.
“Some employees are also contemplating suicide because of the financial crisis. After the sit-in, if our salaries are not paid soon, we will consider launching other forms of agitation like hunger strike and ceasework,” T. Tikendrajit, the chairman of the coordinating body, warned.
The problem for work-charged employees started when the state government decided to implement recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission in 2010. The government paid the revised payscale to the work-charged employees, as was done with the case of the regular employees, for seven months after which it stopped paying this category of employees.
The employees did not face this problem when the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission were implemented.
The government has been maintaining that as there has been no finance concurrence from the pay implementation cell, it has not been able to pay the work-charged employees the revised pay.
The state government has also not been paying the salaries of schoolteachers for 10 months, as the preparation of the employees’ list of the school education department is not yet complete. Education minister M. Okendra Singh has assured the teachers that their salaries would be paid before Ningol Chakkouba.