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Arunachal Forest Dept Workers to Start Dharna if Demands for Regularisation, Timely Salary not Fulfilled

The Union has focused on the regularisation of contract workers and the timely disbursal of salaries given the precarious nature of their livelihood.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Forest Workers’ Union (AAPFWU) warned the administration that it will begin a second phase of protests if the Department of Environment and Forest did not pay heed to their demands that include regularisation of contract workers.

The union said it would hold a protest march on November 9 with its four-point demands. If the government still remained apathetic, the forest department workers affiliated with the union would go on a three-day dharna at the PCCF office starting November 10,The Sentinel reported. The Union has held protests last month as well.

The Union has also sent a letter underlining their demands as an ultimatum to Arunachal’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), AAPFWU president Lindum Bagap told journalists at a press conference.

“A majority of contingency workers depend on salaries for survival. During Covid-19 pandemic, workers suffered a lot. There was hope that the situation would improve but things have not changed and salaries are still not being disbursed on time,” Bagap was quoted as saying.

In recent workers’ protests across the country, be it Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, the regularisation of contract work has emerged as a pressing demand, especially as the government is increasingly resorting to hire casual labour instead of permanent employees. According to the government’sPublic Enterprises Survey 2019-20, the casual and daily rated workers in public sector companies saw a rapid increase of 178% between 2015-16 and 2019-20. At the same time,a reduction of 25% in regular employees was recorded.

The AAPFWU’s demands comprise the regularisation of contingent workers, compliance of government decision to pay wages through electronic transfer within the first week of every month and the immediate renovation of the labour barrack.

The Union demanded that the retired persons who had been re-inducted in the department should be removed immediate lyas there were other qualified, and young prospective employees along with a few staffers who also deserved promotion.

However, Principal Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of Forest,RK Singh has rubbished the allegation of non-payment of salaries and said that the department was totally transparent in terms of disbursing salaries. He claimed that a few days’ or weeks’ delay had taken place due to unspecified problems, and the system has now been changed, the Sentinel reported.

Further, Joint Working Committee of Workers Union president Changma Tajo also joined the protest call and demanded that the monthly salariesof the contingency workers should be disbursed on time.

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