Calcutta, Aug. 6: The Mamata Banerjee government has asked all departments to terminate the services of contractual employees and issue fresh agreement letters.
The Left government had issued an order in 2010 stating that contractual employees engaged by various departments and working for 10 years at a stretch would be allowed to continue till the age of 60. According to the order, such employees would get at least Rs 1 lakh as retirement benefit.
According to officials, the order issued by the Trinamul government’s finance department on August 1 makes it clear that such benefits will no longer be extended to contractual employees. There are around 15,000 to 20,000 contractual staff in the Group C and D categories.
The August 1 order also states that the contracts of the existing employees will be terminated and fresh contract letters issued. Most of the existing employees are likely to be given reemployment but they will be posted in corporations and boards, not directly in departments.
“Once the contract letters are issued, the services of the employees will be discontinued. So they will no longer be able to avail themselves of the benefits that had been offered in the previous order on completion of 10 years of uninterrupted service,” a senior finance department official said.
“The Trinamul government has inserted a clause in the new order mentioning that the employment of contractual staff in other entities once the fresh letters are issued will not be considered as continuation of the existing service,” the official added.
The new order has been issued at a time most contractual employees are on the verge of completing 10 years of uninterrupted service. Around 2,000 such employees, whom the Left government started recruiting in 2000, have been allowed to continue till 60 as they have completed 10 years of uninterrupted service.
Last year, the Trinamul government recruited 3,500 people on contract.
The Left government had started taking in contractual employees to implement several projects without significantly increasing the wage bill.
“Because of lack of computer-literate employees, the system of recruiting contractual employees was put in place. Initially, such employees were mostly recruited as computer operators but later, peons and clerical staff were also taken in on a contractual basis,” another official said.
Before the 2011 Assembly polls, the Left government had issued the order offering facilities such as guaranteed employment till the age of 60 and retirement benefit of at least Rs 1 lakh.
In its three years in power, the Trinamul government has not offered the job guarantee and pension benefits to contractual employees who completed 10 years of unhindered service.
“The new government is not ready to follow the Left dispensation’s order as it believes it would add to the burden of its strained coffers. Moreover, the current government does not want to extend the benefits promised to those recruited when the Left was in power,” the official said.
Manoj Guha, the general secretary of the CPM-backed Co-ordination Committee, said: “Our government had given some relief to the contractual employees. But this government is taking steps to curb the rights of the employees.”
The Trinamul-backed State Government Employees’ Federation also expressed concern at the new order. “Our main worry is that the government is losing the faith of the employees,” said a leader of the federation.
Senior officials said the unions were wary because they would have to face questions from employees affiliated to them.
“The contractual employees are a strong force of the unions. They take part in agitations as they don’t have job security. This is the reason they want a platform that will fight for them if they face problems,” an official said.