Darjeeling, Sept. 15: Unions of state government employees in the hills today decided to form a co-ordination committee to put up a united face at a time the government has decided to slash pay of staff who did not work during the shutdown.
The decision to form the umbrella organisation was taken at a meeting of representatives of various unions convened by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha here today.
Jyoti Kumar Rai, the assistant secretary of the Morcha, said: “A meeting of various employees’ unions in the hills was held at Patlasbas in Darjeeling. All the unions present during the meeting have decided to form a co-ordination committee to take forward the statehood agitation.”
Rai said the government’s move to deduct the salaries of the employees absent during the shutdown had also been discussed at today’s meeting. “Since the government has only served show-cause notices on the employees and has not yet issued an order to deduct the salaries, we haven’t taken any decision in this regard. However, in the event of a salary deduction, all unions are ready to take the matter to the high court.”
Administrative sources have said the government is looking at paying only six days’ salary to most of the employees for August.
“According to our records, most employees will receive six days’ salary. Some will get salaries for 10-15 days. Very few officials will get the entire month’s salary,” said a source.
Salaries will be paid for the six days during which the strike was relaxed. The relaxation was for two days from August 1 and four days from August 15. Most employees had attended office on those six days.
Rai said the formation of the co-ordination committee would be finalised on September 21.
“The body will consist of two representatives each of various unions. Today, we nominated Tshering Tamang of the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Association as the convenor of the body. The final structure of the body will be known after a meeting on September 21,” he said.
Apart from the representatives of the Morcha-affiliated Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Association, those of other unions allegiant to the outfit, like the Janmukti Primary Teachers’ Organisation and Janmukti Karmachari Sangatan, were present at today’s meeting. Other independent unions such as the Hill Employee’s Union, Hill Employees and Workers’ Trade Union, municipality employees’ union and court employees’ union also sent their representatives to the meeting.
Morcha president Bimal Gurung has appealed to the All India Lepcha Association to call off its relay hunger strike in Darjeeling tomorrow.
“Since the Morcha has also suspended its agitation following a request from the Union home minister, our party president has appealed to the Lepcha forum to lift the relay fast,” said Rai.
The fast had been started by the Darjeeling-based association on September 1 to protest the chief minister’s alleged divide and rule policy by announcing the formation of a board for the Lepchas’ development.
Tea bonus meet
The Darjeeling Tea Association has decided to convene a meeting with workers’ unions in Darjeeling on September 20 to discuss the annual bonus rate for garden labourers.
The Morcha and CPRM have already demanded that the workers be paid bonus at the rate of 20 per cent, the highest rate permissible according to the Plantation Labour Act, 1951.