Darjeeling, Sept. 24: The first lot of salaries for hill employees released today showed the state government had stuck to its decision of slashing pay of employees who did not attend work during the statehood strike in the hills.
A senior government official said only six days’ salary was granted to employees in the district magistrate’s office for the month of August.
“Six days’ salary for the month of August has been deposited in the respective bank accounts of the employees working at the district magistrate’s office. The process for paying the salaries of GTA workers has also started. They will be getting eight days’ pay for August.”
The official explained that GTA employees were getting salary for two more days than the others because August 21 was a paid holiday for Rakhi.
“Also, August 31 (a Saturday) was a working day in GTA offices,” the official said.
The employees of other state government departments are expected to receive six days’ pay.
There are around 20,000 employees in the hills, including 6,500 GTA employees.
Hill workers’ unions said they were thinking of moving court against the government’s decision.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had called a strike in the hills from July 29 to August 14 and again from August 19 to August 30.
The employees, who usually receive the preceding month’s salary on the first week of the following month, had not got their pay because of the hill strike, which was lifted on September 9.
Several employees’ union in the hills, some of which are affiliated to the Morcha and the rest apolitical, have been protesting the government’s decision to deduct salaries.
Most of them have said the employees must not be blamed because there was no transport plying on the strike says, so nobody could have reached their workplace.
B.P. Chhetri, general secretary of the Hill Employees’ Union, an apolitical employee’s forum, said: “We have already written to the state government that the salaries should not be deducted as the situation was extraordinary and that employees could not have attended work during that period.”
On September 15, various hill employees unions also formed a co-ordination committee to put up a united fight on the state government’s move.
The meeting had been attended by representatives of Morcha affiliated unions like the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Association, Janmukti Primary Teachers’ Organisation, Janmukti Karmachari Sangatan and other independent unions like the Hill Employees’ Association, Hill Employees and Workers’ Trade Union, municipality employees’ union and court employees’ union from the hills.
Tshering Tamang, convenor of the co-ordination committee said: “We have decided to hold a meeting on September 27 and we will explore all possibilities.” Sources said the employees were mulling going to court against the government’s decision.
R.D. Meena, the principal secretary of the GTA has also convened a meeting on September 27 of the GTA Sabha to elect a new chief executive of the GTA. The Morcha has, however, maintained that they would participate in the election only if the 10 elected GTA Sabha members and the 1100-odd Morcha supporters who have been arrested during the latest phase of the Gorkhaland agitation are released.