Calcutta, Sept. 21: A cloud appeared hanging over the higher secondary examinations scheduled for next April as nearly 500 employees of the higher secondary council threatened non-cooperation.
The employees have said they may not participate in the process of conducting the examinations protesting against the government’s apathy in giving the nod to the council to pay their pending increments under a revised career advancement scheme.
The council authorities fear that a disruption in the process of conducting of the examinations may affect the academic careers of more than four lakh students who will take the tests next year. Council officials have hurriedly organised a meeting between finance minister Asim Dasgupta and a delegation of the employees’ union at Writers’ Buildings tomorrow.
That the threat of non-cooperation has come from the CPM-affiliated employees’ union has left the officials even more worried.
“We have already appealed to the government several times to meet our demand. We are hopeful that it will understand our problem and make a positive move. The employees may have to take a stiffer stand if the government refuses to bend, which in turn may lead to the disruption of the exams,” said Ratan Banerjee, a leader of the employees’ union.
President of the West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education Jyotirmoy Mukherjee said: “Nearly 500 employees who are engaged in the council have to do voluminous work for conducting the examinations every year. The examinations cannot be held without their cooperation. We are trying our best to negotiate with the government and come to a settlement so that we can get the full support of the employees in the process of holding next year’s HS exams.”
The government had imposed an embargo on special increments to the council employees under the revised career advancement scheme in view of its financial crisis.
A union member said in a bid to offer better benefits to employees of the Madhyamik board and the HS council, the government revised the existing scheme in 1999 and introduced a system of paying special increments after an employee completed eight, 16, and 25 years of service.
Under the original scheme, introduced in 1996, the employees were given such increments after every 10 years of service.
According to the council employees, though the revised scheme was put into effect from 2001, they are still paid increments after every 10 years of service.
Banerjee said to implement the new scheme for the council employees, the government would have to spend “less than Rs 10 lakh”. He felt this was a “nominal amount” and could be sourced from the council’s own funds. The government can reimburse it after recovering from the cash crunch, said Banerjee.
The council had made such a proposal to the government but it refused to give its concurrence. However, it cleared the same proposal from the Madhyamik board. “The revised scheme was meant for employees of both the board and the council. There is no reason why the government should not agree to the council proposal,” said Banerjee.