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West Bengal Govt Employees Oppose Bengal CM’s Claims, Demand DA Hike

Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said that the demand of the state government employees to hike DA is wrong.
WB: As Mamata Goes on Defensive, Non-BJP Opposition Taps Into Discontent

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Image Courtesy: PTI

Kolkata: West Bengal government employees have strongly opposed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s claim that due to the movement of the state government employees, 36,000 teachers of the state have lost their jobs and not due to a court order.

The Chief Minister further contended that the demand for Dearness Allowance by state government employees is unwarranted and insisted that its disbursement is at the government’s discretion. She went on to claim that job seekers from Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporter families will not get employment as favours due to the presence of Coordination Committee members in the Public Service Commission.

Biswajit Gupta Choudhury, convenor of the Joutho Manch, the largest organisation representing the state government employees, responded to these claims. He said that their demands charter emphasises the fair evaluation of candidates based on merit rather than proximity to the ruling party. He stressed that the court’s decision to terminate 36,000 teachers is unrelated to the actions of government employees. While they sympathise with the dismissed teachers, they advocate for a proper entrance examination process free from the corruption that has plagued the state for the past 12 years, he added.

Choudhury also expressed the state government employees’ strong disapproval of the notion that TMC supporters’ families are not favoured in Public Service Commission job placements due to the presence of Coordination Committee members. He asserted that merit-based criteria are the sole determinants of employment. “It is a fact that members of our organisation serve in the Public Service Commission, but is the PSC Chairman a Coordination Committee person or a political appointee?” He concluded that the Chief Minister opposes merit-based criteria, leading her to make such statements.

On May 4, more than 25,000 government employees from various districts rallied outside the state secretariat to demand a substantial hike in dearness allowance (DA) for state government employees. Dissatisfied with the West Bengal government’s announced 3% raise, they believe it falls significantly short compared to the 38% DA given to central government employees.

The march started from Howrah Launch Ghat and continued till Howrah Maidan. The police escorted a three-member delegation of state government employees from Howrah Maidan to the state secretariat, where they submitted a deputation to the competent authorities.

“Here is a government that refuses to grant any DA at all. In their affidavit filed with the Calcutta High Court, the government argues against providing DA to its employees, deeming it a non-obligatory practice to give DA based on the central rate. They also deny the existence of any pending DA payments to employees. However, approximately 35% of DA is currently outstanding, resulting in an average monthly loss of Rs 12,000 to 18,000 per employee. DA is calculated scientifically based on the consumer price index,” explained Choudhury, who is also the general secretary of the Coordination Committee, in an interview with NewsClick. He further stated that the central government is set to announce an additional 4% DA, which would raise the quantum of pending DA for all employees paid by the state exchequer from 35% to 39%.

In addition to the demands for payment of pending DA and filling vacant positions, the march also called for the regularisation of casual employees, an end to divisive politics in the state, and the restoration of democracy. Notably, government employees staged a successful strike against the state government on March 10.

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