Pens down from today for permanent jobs - Education out of Phase II agitation

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Darjeeling
  • Published 5.11.08
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Darjeeling, Nov. 5: Employees on contract at the DGHC have decided to go on a pen- down strike from tomorrow in two phases to demand permanent status for their jobs.

Many of these workers have been serving the council for the past 20 years.

The union of contractual workers, Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS), an affiliate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, will include essential services like hospital and public health engineering department within the ambit of its agitation in the second phase.

Machendra Subba, the president of JAKS, while addressing a public meeting at Chowrastha here today, said: “In the second phase, our members will not work at the hospitals and the PHE department. Only education will be kept out of the purview because there are a number of examinations ahead. Our decision may inconvenience people, but they must also understand our condition.”

The first phase of the pen-down strike will continue till November 15. “Our workers will report to office and sign the attendance register. They will stay outside office buildings till 4pm and before leaving sign the register once again,” said Machendra.

Apart from the pen-down strike, JAKS will hold public meetings in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong on November 8, 10 and 11 respectively.

The second phase of the agitation will be from November 17 to 22. The union said the DGHC offices would be allowed to remain open till December 5, refusing to elaborate on what would happen after that. Only employees of the education department will work during the second phase of protest.

Even though most hospital staff members are not contractual workers, a significant number of Group C and D employees are attached to the health department. The JAKS move is likely to affect healthcare system in the hills to some extent.

The union claimed that it was forced to take such a drastic measure, as there was no response to its demand from the state government. “It is true that they did away with the six-month contract system from July 1. However, there is still no word of our jobs being made permanent. Moreover, we were promised a hike of Rs 1,000, but till date, nothing has happened. We do not need the hike, but we want regularisation of jobs,” said Subba.

The DGHC has around 7,000 workers whose contracts earlier had to be renewed every six months. When Subash Ghisingh was the chairman of the council, the salaries of these employees had been slashed.

B.L. Meena, the current administrator of the DGHC, said the demands of the workers had been forwarded to the state government. “In fact, the hill affairs department had certain queries, the answers to which were sent through a special messenger on Monday.”