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Many West Bengal govt employees to go on strike on Friday, demanding DA hike


Reported By: Kamalika Sengupta

Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta

Last Updated: March 10, 2023, 00:11 IST

The West Bengal government on Thursday issued a notification warning action against those employees remaining absent from work on the day of protest. Pic/News18

The protesters, mostly from Left-affiliated unions, have been demanding that their DA be raised to the level of what their counterparts in the central government get

Some organisations of West Bengal government employees have announced a strike on Friday, demanding a hike in Dearness Allowance (DA). Several of these workers have been sitting on a dharna for the past 38 days in Kolkata, and some say they are on a hunger strike.

The protesters, mostly from Left-affiliated unions, have been demanding that their DA be raised to the level of what their counterparts in the central government get. The difference between the DA with the Centre is 36 per cent, said some of them.

Speaking to News18, Arjun Sengupta, who is also sitting on a dharna near Shaheed Minar, said, “See they are not giving us our due. They are giving everything for mela and other things but they can’t give our money. The strike will take place and we will go for a bigger movement if our demands are not fulfilled.”

The West Bengal government on Thursday issued a notification warning action against those employees remaining absent from work on the day of protest.

Nivedita Dey, a healthcare worker of the state government, told News18, “We are not stopping emergency services but we can’t continue without DA. Why are they not giving it? Why are they going to court? We will sit here as long as our demands are not justified.”

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on March 6 that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government will not be able to provide DA on par with the Centre.

“I am giving 105 per cent DA. How much more do you want? State government employees have different pay scales from central employees. We don’t have so much capacity as they (the Centre) are not giving 100 days’ work money and others. Accept what we are giving (DA issue). If you don’t like me, behead me. But beyond this, I cannot do anything,” she said in the assembly.

DA was never paid during the CPI(M) regime, the CM said. She also maintained that the Centre owes funds to the state.

“No Casual Leave or any other kind of leave for absence either in the first half of the day or in the second half or for the whole day shall be granted to any employee on March 10,” the state government order on Thursday said. “Absence of employees on that day will be treated as dies-non (break in service) and no salary will be admissible unless such absence is covered by hospitalisation of the employees or if there is bereavement in the family, severe illness and absence continuing prior to March 9.”

No action will be taken against employees who had been on child care leave, maternity leave, medical leave, and earned leave sanctioned before March 9, according to the order.

The BJP has assured support to state government employees who would participate in the strike on Friday. Speaking to the media, leader of opposition in the assembly Suvendu Adhikari said, “If anyone after attending the protests gets physically or mentally harassed or faces any untoward incident at their workplace then they can personally contact the BJP and we promise help…Though we don’t support bandh, our moral support is with the people on the streets.”

The Left and Congress too are meeting protesters and offering their support.

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh told News18, “The opposition wants to do vulture politics, they want to highlight negative things. DA cannot be their right, it’s an allowance, according to legal experts. People should understand that the Centre is not giving funds.”

CM Mamata Banerjee on Thursday also met governor CV Ananda Bose at his official residence. According to sources, the governor asked about the protest and Mamata informed him about the state government’s financial constraints.

“I am distressed to learn that some of the employees are on hunger strike for weeks. Their commitment to the cause and their dedication to their fraternity is well understood and appreciated. Human life is precious and I entreat all to kindly withdraw the hunger strike. For every problem, there is a solution. I trust that all stakeholders will work together for an acceptable solution,” said the governor in a statement.

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