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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Talks on dearness allowance fail, staff announce rally on May 6

Our agitation at Shahid Minar will continue and we are planning an indefinite strike, says convener of Sangrami Joutha Mancha

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 22.04.23, 05:20 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File photo

Bengal government employees announced a "mega rally" in Calcutta on May 6 in a bid to intensify the ongoing agitation for the payment of dearness allowance on a par with their central counterparts after talks with the top brass of the state administration on the issue yielded no results on Friday.

“We will hold a mega rally that will end at Harish Chatterjee Street (where the chief minister’s residence is located) on May 6 to strengthen our demand for due DA. Our agitation at Shahid Minar will continue and we are planning an indefinite strike, too,” said Bhaskar Ghosh, the convener of the Sangrami Joutha Mancha, a platform of 20-odd state government employee unions.

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Chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi, home secretary B.P. Gopalika and finance secretary Manoj Pant represented the state government at the meeting with five representatives of the union's platform at Nabanna on Friday. The talks that had been held following an instruction from Calcutta High Court lasted about 45 minutes.

The employee unions said they got six per cent of their basic pay as DA, while the central staff received 42 per cent DA.

At the meeting, sources said, the top government officials urged the leaders of the Sangrami Joutha Mancha to withdraw the agitation and told them that the administration would increase the DA whenever it was possible.

“The officials told the union leaders that the government was not against giving enough DA to the employees. But it cannot give them enough DA only because of the financial crisis the state is facing, said the officials. The union leaders were also told that the state would release DA whenever the financial situation improved,” said a source.

But Ghosh, the convener of Sangrami Joutha Mancha, said the officials were misleading them.

“They were saying the state was not getting funds under the MGNREGA or PMGSY. We asked them whether the state was getting finance commission funds. The officials said there was no problem in getting finance commission funds. As the state does not give DA from the MGNREGA funds, the state’s argument of funds crisis does not stand,” said Ghosh.

He said meetings would be held with all other employee unions and steps would be initiated to strengthen their agitation.

The employee unions had observed a strike on March 10 and the government had taken steps against those who did not attend offices on that day. A day’s salary was cut for the employees who remained absent from offices on the day without valid reasons.

“If the employee unions are planning a strike once again, it means they are gaining support despite the stern measures initiated by the state to foil the strike last time,” said a source.

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