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Punjab Government Staff on Indefinite Strike, Plan ‘Chakka Jam’

Sagrika Kissu |
Contractual workers from other sectors threaten to join strike if demand, such as ‘equal pay for equal work’ are not met.
Chakka Jam

Image Coutesy: The Tribune

Thousands of government employees, including contractual employees, across Punjab are on an indefinite pen-down strike at the Punjab secretariat, Chandigarh. Protesting under a banner Sanjha Mulazim Manch, Punjab, the employees have raised a few basic demands, including ‘equal pay for equal work’.

The employees are demanding release of pending dearness allowances (DA), implementation of sixth pay commission, reduction of probation period from three years to two years, equal pay for equal work, cancellation of the transfers of over 1,000 employees from education department and the demands of contractual employees.

As per the protestors, drivers unions in Punjab and Chandigarh will join their agitation and there will be a ‘chakka jaam’ across the state.

Speaking to Newsclick, Manjeet Singh Randhawa, senior assistant at the Punjab Civil Secretariat said, “Around 1 lakh, 40,000 employees are on strike across the state. We will stop all the government vehicles on Monday during Chakka Jaam.”

Also Read: Punjab Farmers and Agricultural Workers Protest Demanding Complete Debt Waiver

 He said the Congress government came to the power saying that they would fulfil our demands, but in the last two years nothing has happened. We had no other option than to launch an agitation, adding that since Thursday employees in the Punjab Civil Secretariat, Punjab Government head office and all the district headquarters and DC offices were not attending work.

Contractual employees

The protesting employees have been divided into two categories – contractual and outsourced employees. The protesting employees have been demanding regularisation of jobs and ‘equal pay for equal work’ vis-a-vis permanent employees.

Also Read: Over 10 lakh Vacancies in Govt Schools, Contractual Teachers Continue to Face Difficulties

Randhawa said, “Contractual employees receive Rs 10,500 for the same work that a permanent employee does. A permanent employee gets around Rs 35,000. This is a clear case of wage disparity. Also, contractual employees always live in the fear that they will be thrown out anytime. Our demand is that the mode of recruitment should be regular and not contractual or outsourced.”

Another protestor, wishing anonymity said, “Over 50,000 contractual employees are demanding a policy through which they are regularised. 50,000 is a huge number and they are working tirelessly for abysmal amount.”          

Reduction of probation and protection of salary

As per the protestors, to reduce the financial liability, the probation period of employees was extended from two years to three years and their wages were reduced to basic pay. “In 2015, the probation period of employees was extended to three years and their salary was reduced to basic pay, which is around Rs 10,500. We are demanding that the probation period be reduced to two years and they receive the previous salary that was granted to them.”

Contractual teachers, who are also part of the protest, hired under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), have also been demanding job regularisation. As per a Times of India report, “The state government had last year set a salary for Rs 15,300 per month for the first three years after a teacher was regularising. Earlier, they were drawing a salary of Rs 42,300 per month.”

Also Read: SSA Teachers in Punjab Continue Protest against Authorities, Face Police Action

Around 1,025 clerical government teachers were transferred in December 2018. Protestors see these transfers as part of revenge. “Over 1,025 were transferred to areas which are 200-300 km away from their location. These employees raising few demands in return of which they were transferred,” said Gurmail Singh Sindhu, convenor of Sanjha Mulazim Manch.

Another protestor complained about government doctors who were receiving paltry wages. “Doctors working at the government hospitals were receiving Rs 15,000 while if they work in private hospitals for lesser hours they receive more than Rs 50,000, and I am here talking about A class doctors. So, over a period of time, the attrition has increased in the government hospitals. So, now they are forcefully increasing wages of those who are resigning but this should have been the basic policy in the first place,” said a protestor, wishing anonymity.

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