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Punjab

PUNJAB-For regular employment, threaten to ‘abandon young kids at houses of ministers from Sept 30’

September 23, 2018 05:33 AM

COURTESY THE TRIBUNE SEP 23

Rs 5,000 a month, Punjab contract staff anger spills out
For regular employment, threaten to ‘abandon young kids at houses of ministers from Sept 30’
Ruchika Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22

Working as a teacher on a contractual basis, all that Jagmohan of Manuke Gill village in Moga had ever wanted was to rid his family of abject poverty. His father a labourer, he somehow managed to give himself a decent education and got a “sarkari naukri”. Nine years later, losing all hope of regular employment, he took his own life on September 13.


His elder brother Paramjit Singh claims he was heart-broken when told by his superiors that he would not be made a regular employee. “Working on a salary of Rs 5,000 per month, he could not bear the thought of having to take up labour like our father. As news of his suicide spread, local politicians urged us to hasten the cremation. No FIR was registered, nor inquest proceedings initiated,” he claims.

Jagmohan Singh’s tragic end has become the trigger for a faceoff between 50,000 Punjab employees — 27,000 on contract, 20,000 hired by companies which have been outsourced works and 1,000 enlisted with the Water Supply and Sanitation Department.
Beginning next Sunday (September 30), these employees will “abandon” their young children, mostly toddlers, at the houses of ministers, according to Ashish Julaha, general secretary, Theka Mulazzim Action Committee. Batches of 300 employees will gather outside the residence of Education Minister OP Soni in Amritsar, Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi in Kharar and PWD Minister Vijay Inder Singla in Sangrur.

“When it comes to hiking their (MLAs’) own allowances, there is no mention of financial constraints. But they continue to deny us our due. While we struggle to educate our wards, most ministers’ children are studying abroad or in India’s best boarding schools,” points out Satpal angrily. He is a Class IV employee at the government dispensary in Tarn Taran’s Dyalpura village.

The family’s sole bread-winner, he works on a monthly salary of Rs 4,000 — which works out at Rs 133 per day, much less than the minimum wage of Rs 302 for unskilled labour. “I am a qualified lab technician. They cannot expect me to leave after 12 years in service, especially when there are no jobs in the private sector,” he says.

Ludhiana resident Seema Goel, assistant project coordinator, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, says the govt is willing to regularise the services of teachers if they agree to work on the basic pay for three years. “I am paid Rs 35,000. How can I agree to work on Rs 10,000 per month (basic pay)? This is gross injustice,” she maintains.

GOVERNMENT CASH-STRAPPED
Officials admit in private that the state cannot take more financial burden. Also, it is feared that a recent HC verdict regarding Power Department employees could be binding on the government, which may have to give full emoluments to the employees on probation. This will entail a cost of Rs 945 crore annually.

ABOUT CONTRACTUAL EMPLOYEES
There are 27,000 contractual employees whose regularisation was okayed in 2016
With the matter in courts, employees say the cash-strapped govt is delaying the matter
There are over 20,000 employees with 100-odd companies that have been outsourced various works
These employees are paid anything between Rs 3,000 and Rs 7,000 per month
The third category comprises 1,000-odd employees hired by Water Supply & Sanitation Department

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