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West Bengal Govt Employees Call for Strike on March 10 Against Pending DA

According to employees’ organisations, 35% of DA is pending with the state government, implying that an average employee loses Rs 12,000 to 18,000 monthly.
Ceasework programme of state government employees  photo by Rajat Saha

Ceasework programme of state government employees  photo by Rajat Saha 

Kolkata: Accusing the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government of not giving a huge amount of dues in Dearness Allowance to its employees, the West Bengal Coordination Committee of Government Employees and like-minded organisations have called for a unified strike on March 10. 

“Here is a government which declines to pay Dearness Allowance at all. The government, in its prayer before the Calcutta High Court in a filed affidavit, declined to give DA to its employees, citing it as a non-mandatory exercise to give DA at the central rate. It also refused to admit that any DA of the employees is pending with the state government. Around 35% of DA is already pending with the government, which means an average employee is losing Rs 12,000 to 18,000 per month. Giving DA is an exercise based on the consumer price index, and it’s calculated using a scientific method,” said Biswajit Gupta Choudhury, General Secretary of the Coordination Committee, while talking to NewsClick. He added that the Central government will announce a 4% additional DA, which will take the quantum of pending DA of all employees who receive their pay from the state exchequer from 35% to 39%.

Speaking to NewsClick, Prof Anjan Bera, a political commentator, said that the TMC-led West Bengal government is the only one in the country declining to give DA to its workers and claiming that DA is not a right of every employee under the state government. “Its nepotism and non-adherence to basic democratic values and complaints about lack of funds after giving hundreds of crores to local clubs for Durga Puja are of legendary proportion,” he alleged. 

On Tuesday night, Biswajit Gupta Choudhury and the leadership of the Coordination Committee and allied organisations gathered at the Dharmatala Shahid Minar premises and announced the upcoming strike on March 10. The protest has been called despite the anti-strike antics of the Mamata Banerjee-led state government, they said.

Among the demands of the strike are the payment of pending dearness allowance, filling vacant posts with clarity, regularisation of casual employees, and eliminating divisive politics in the state and reinstatement of democracy. It has also been decided that both groups will take up joint programmes considering the unified strike of government employees, teachers, and local body employees on March 10.

On Monday and Tuesday, state government employees ignored the government circular, which threatens to cut a day in the work life of the employees, and took part in a strike across the state. On Monday, the programme was followed at major collectorates, and on Tuesday, many more employees participated. However, in Bhangar of South 24 Parganas district, those allegedly associated with the ruling party maltreated teachers who had joined the strike programme, said Rajat Saha, secretary of the Coordination Committee unit in South 24 Parganas.

For the last decade, DA has been withheld from state government employees. Earlier, the government spoke of the non-availability of funds, and later, in an affidavit, it told the court that DA was not a right of the government employees. Even after a high court rebuff, the Mamata Banerjee-led government is still unflexible about not providing DA to its employees. Additionally, there were various controversial comments from the chief minister regarding this decade-old demand of government employees. Push came to shove when the government announced only 3% DA in the last state budget. It led to a 48-hour strike when the employees signed their attendance but went on to cease work, demanding their DA.

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