The expectations of the government employees in Tamil Nadu suffered a blow as their demands failed to feature in the revised budget presented by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) led government.
Apart from the increase employees' in maternity leave from nine to 12 months and family security fund for deceased employees from the existing Rs 3 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs, the budget failed to impress the government staff.
The demand of filling up around 4.5 lakh existing vacancies, time scale salary for another 3.5 lakh workers in nutrition meal, Anganwadis, revenue village assistants, rural library and medical recruitment board (MRB) nurses have not found favour in the first budget of the DMK government presented by finance minister PTR Palanivel Thiyagarajan.
Dismayed, the Tamil Nadu Government Employees Association (TNGEA) held protests across the state in front of 1,000 government offices on August 16. They demanded the government to consider their demands in the current budget session of the Assembly.
'POLL PROMISES UNKEPT'
TNGEA pointed to the election manifesto of the DMK, which had promised to fulfil the demands of government employees and teachers.
The DMK remained vociferous during the protests of the Joint Action Committee of Tamil Nadu Teachers' Organisations- Government Employees Organisations (JACTTO-GEO) against the erstwhile All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) regime.
"The revised budget has been largely disappointing for the government employees," said A Selvam, general secretary of TNGEA. "The increase in maternity leave and family security fund are welcome decisions. But our demands and the DMK's poll promises have not been fulfilled in this budget", he added.
DMK president M K Stalin had addressed the conference of the TNGEA held in January 2021 and promised to consider the demands of the employees and teachers.
"In his address, the present chief minister accused the AIADMK government of snatching away the rights of the employees and teachers. However, his government has not kept their promise, including the restoration of the old pension scheme," Selvam said.
'VACANCIES, REGULARISATION PENDING FOR YEARS'
The government employees and teachers' organisations have been demanding vacancies in different departments to be filled for years. In his budget speech, the finance minister announced that the government would fill existing vacancies in the police department, amounting to around 14,000.
"There are more than 4.5 lakh vacancies in different departments of the state government. This has put the educated youth waiting for government jobs in a fix," Selvam said.
In its manifesto, the DMK also promised to regularise temporary workers who have served for ten years.
"The 3.5 lakh workers in different schemes receiving consolidated wages are not considered for upgrading to time scale payment," Selvam said. Time scale pay is the progressives system of wage payment where the amount rises by periodical increments.
These workers are not enrolled in any of the social security measures since they are considered temporary and consolidated wage workers.
"We have seen workers retiring without any pension and other benefits even after three decades of service. The government has regularised around 1,400 MRB nurses, but several lakhs are waiting for permanent jobs and time scale wages. These workers and employees trusted the DMK to fulfil the promises," Selvam said.
'FULFIL DEMANDS IN BUDGET SESSION'
The dearness allowance (DA) and surrender leave encashment of the employees have been withheld since January 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.
Selvam claimed that the interest rate on the general provident fund had seen a steady decline. The increase in DA for the state government employees will be effective from April 1, 2022.
"Many state governments have announced the revised DA for the employees, but it has been postponed to 2022 in Tamil Nadu," he added.
The TNGEA and other employees and retirees' organisations, including Tamil Nadu All Government Departments Pensioners Association (TNGPA), held protests across the state, demanding that the state government implements its promises.
"The secretary held talks with us after the protests. We have submitted more than 50 demands, including financial requirements. We urge the state government to fulfil the promises in the ongoing budget session of the Assembly," Selvam said.