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Deadline for arrears talks

Guwahati, Dec. 26: The Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad has set January 13 as deadline for the Tarun Gogoi government to start talks on releasing arrears to the government employees.

The president of the Parishad, Basab Kalita, told The Telegraph today that in case the government failed to meet the deadline, the employees would start a fresh agitation after Magh Bihu.

He hoped that the government would take the matter seriously and start holding talks with the Parishad’s representatives to release the arrears.

Over four lakh employees had carried out a phase-wise strike till December 17, demanding payment of their arrears for 33 months.

But the state government and its employees appear headed for a showdown after a recent statement by chief minister Tarun Gogoi that no arrears were due.

Agriculture minister Nilamani Sen Deka made the statement on behalf of the chief minister in the recently concluded winter session of the Assembly.

“The statement of the chief minister was nothing but a lie and breach of trust. Despite such a situation, the Parishad has been maintaining restraint and trying to correspond with the government to sort out the matter amicably. But the state government is reluctant to respond positively to our demand, which is unfortunate,” Kalita said.

In June 2010, the state government issued an order of paying revised salaries to its employees with effect from April 1, 2009.

According to the Parishad, the employees started receiving revised salaried from July 2010, with arrears of 14 months. But the Sixth Pay Commission originally revised the salary from January 1, 2006. So, from January 1, 2006 to March 31, 2009, the government owes its employees arrears of 39 months. In 2011, the government cleared arrears of six months and thus the figure went down to 33 months.

“As of now, we should get 33 months’ arrears,” Kalita said.

Sources in the finance department said the department was examining the matter.

“On what basis the chief minister had made the statement in the House needs to be examined. The chief minister must have made the statement after having discussions with the finance department. But at the same time, the Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad must understand the fact that depreciation in the value of rupees has hit the Indian economy hard this year and Assam is not an exception,” an Assam government official said.