With Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, the demands of the government employees in Punjab have been accepted. Over thousands of employees had been protesting for almost a year. Even though the employees are welcoming the decision, they feel that the Congress government in Punjab has acted under pressure because of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
An employee, wishing anonymity told Newsclick, “The letter regarding the acceptance of dearness allowance was issued at quarter to 5, and the ECI press conference was at 5 pm. The government was under pressure, and hurried to meet the demands.”
Dearness allowance (DA) was one of the major demands of the employees. Another employee, Manjeet Singh Randhawa, senior assistant at Punjab Civil Secretariat said, “Almost eight demands have been accepted including dearness allowance. First two instalments with bifurcation of 4+3, total 7 per cent, has been accepted with effect from 1.1.2017.”
As per the employees, a committee of three ministers under the chairmanship of the state Health and Family Welfare Minister Brahm Mohindra was constituted. The members of the committee included Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Technical Education and Industrial Training Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.
Another demand by the employees regarding service during the probation period has been accepted, but the reduction in the probation period is yet to be considered. Randhawa told Newsclick, “The demand that service during the probation period of three years be considered as qualifying service has been accepted but the probation period has not been reduced. However, a committee has been formed to access the financial implication of reducing the probation period. We have been assured that the report regarding this will be given in six months.”
Meanwhile, the most basic demand of “Equal pay for equal work” stands unfulfilled, and assurance has been made that the government “will decide upon it later on”. Last year, around 1,025 clerical staff members from the Education Department was transferred 200-300 km away from their home. These employees under the banner ‘Sanjha Mulazim Manch’, have been protesting against the government.
Upon meeting the employees, the government accepted to cancel the transfer of the clerical staff on Sunday. “The government is ready to cancel and abject the employees near their homes,” an employee said.
“A committee has been formed for recommendations and it has been said that the committee will give the report very soon. But we are not hopeful that the committee will give the report before 6 months,” an employee, wishing anonymity, said. Meanwhile, service of 5,178 contractual teachers under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) has been accepted.
“Sixth pay commission is yet not accepted. Government has an excuse that they don’t have funds. Unofficially, employees have been assured that the pay commission will give report before December,” said another employee.
Meanwhile, the Union leaders have thanked the government for accepting their demands, and have requested to expedite the process of reports to be given by the respective committee.
Old Pension Scheme
For a long time, the government employees in Punjab have been demanding the implementation of old pension scheme. As per the employees, the old pension scheme was given according to the length of service. “Until 2004, the government employees were receiving pension according to old pension scheme. The new pension is based on the amount deducted from the employees’ salary and equal share given by the government. Now, the pension that they receive is less. And the pension depends on your contribution in the pension fund. Moreover, the money deducted from employees’ salary is invested in various pension funds by GOI, which are directly dependent on the stock market,” said an employee requesting anonymity.
Moreover, the employees have said that they are not given any information about the way the new pension scheme works. “The employees are under the impression that all their deduction is invested in stock market and they will lose money if the stock market crashes,” another employee said.
Also read: Punjab Government Staff on Indefinite Strike, Plan ‘Chakka Jam’