West Bengal state government employees call for strike on March 10 for implementation of central government DA

 

Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee correspondent

 

On 20 and 21 February 2023, West Bengal state government employees ignored the government circular threatening to cut a day in the work life of the employees, and took part in a strike across the state. On 21February, leadership of the Coordination Committee and allied organisations gathered at the Dharmatala Shahid Minar premises and announced the upcoming strike on March 10. The main grievance of the employees is the huge disparity in DA rates for central government and state government employees in West Bengal. The protest has been called despite the anti-strike notices of the Trinamool-led state government.

The General Secretary of the Coordination Committee explained that “the state government in its prayer before the Calcutta High Court in a filed affidavit, declined to give DA (Dearness Allowance) to its employees, citing it as a non-mandatory exercise to give DA at the central rate. 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 is calculated using a scientific method,”

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 government is still inflexible about not providing DA to its employees. After a long struggle, 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 38% of the basic salary as DA.

The employees are angry because at present the government of West Bengal pays only 3% DA on basic salary to it employees, whereas the Central Government DA is 38% of the basic salary, this makes a big difference in the salary, amounting to RS. 12,000 to Rs. 18,000 a month.

Apart from payment of pending DA, other demands include filling vacant posts with clarity, regularization of casual employees, and eliminating divisive politics in the state and reinstatement of democracy.

 

 

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