Trinamool Government in Bengal is Awaiting AD Payment to its Staff
BY ASHIS BISWAS
Some official decisions announcing better pay/benefits for their employees in neighboring states have caused great embarrassment to
Government of West Bengal. As it stands, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has for some years been accused of being unsympathetic to the state
State employees, because of its stubborn refusal to pay their high cost allowance (DA) in recent years.
Simultaneously, the state’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, was met with signs of suppressed anger among job seekers during an official speech
rallies, for what they perceived as the government’s inability to provide work for millions of educated young people. Participants in these gatherings
repeatedly expressed their contempt for the relatively low salaries offered, while addressing the media. ‘We want full-time employees worksnot
badly paid temporary official assignments” is the main grievance expressed by young unemployed people in the state.
The ruling TMC is struggling to manage critical issues over its apparent inability to generate new jobs. To maintain his well-publicized well-being
programs, he prioritized giving gifts to people. The Prime Minister has repeatedly explained that free rations, medical aid, education–
related help, etc. 100 million people cost the treasury thousands of rupee kernels. The government often paid sarkari DA employees in the
past and would do it again if possible. DA payments were not mandatory, but depended on government discretion. In the current state of affairs,
the government was unable to pay AD to its employees due to lack of adequate financial support from the centre.
Various associations and unions of state employees opposed this position and fought a long legal battle against the TMC-run
government over the years. They won, and it only remains for the Supreme Court to announce a final verdict.
The TMC’s woes have been compounded by recent developments. A few days ago, the Chief Minister of Odisha, MrNavin Patnaik, announced the
confirmation mass in their government jobs of a total of 57,000 employees who had worked under contracts under various
departments. The ruling BJD government, he announced, was fully committed to helping government employees. The state government had made
arrangements to provide an additional Rs 1,300 crore per annum to meet increased expenditure under this head.
Not to be outdone, Mr. Himanta Biswas Sarma, Chief Minister of BJP-led Assam, has announced a comprehensive salary increase for Home
Guards, in a recent statement. Their daily salary, he said, would increase from Rs 300 now to Rs 767, to bolster them financially. departure
the monthly salary of a Home guard in Assam would now be Rs 23,310. They would also be eligible to get DA and other miscellaneous benefits.
Curiously, apart from a few private news channels on YouTube, West Bengal’s pro-establishment mainstream media provided
no coverage of these official announcements in the two neighboring states!
However, informed union leaders associated with past employee-led agitations/movements in West Bengal told IPA that they
discuss these and related issues at upcoming organizational meetings. “We now know the anti-working class approach of the state
Government. We have been fighting a legal battle with the current TMC government over the non-payment of our DA for several years.
Fortunately, we are on the verge of a major legal victory against the TMC government. Measures taken by Odisha and Assam
governments would certainly help us more in future legal battles against our state authorities. they said.
Sources within the finance department estimate that it would cost the West Bengal government around Rs 23,000 crore for the employees.
to settle their pending DA installments. There is simply no way for the government of Bengal, already indebted in various capacities to the central government
Government up to about Rs 500,000 crore, to raise this kind of sum.
It should be noted that when the TMC defeated the Left Front in the 2011 legislative elections, ousting it from power, the state’s indebtedness to
the center cost around Rs 190,000 crore.
Following a pay rise for home guards in Assam, they now reportedly earn more than regularized police officers in the West
Bengal! According to information from the official website, the surprising salary plus allowances in West Bengal is currently Rs 22,670 – Rs 600 less than
what a home guard would earn in Assam!
A video clip of a recent reception attended by the chief minister in Malbazar which has gone viral has illustrated the mood of disillusion among
young Bengalis on the type of formal jobs offered. As she made job offers to five or six young people, they remained deferential but in an unusual way
silent, embarrassing the officials present and the spectators.
For the record, the CM offered civic volunteer jobs to young people.
This is a special type of job created by the TMC government. Incoming ‘volunteers’ must be between 20 and 60 years old,
physically/mentally fit and educated to class VIII. Their missions: to act against illegal parking and more generally to help the police maintain
law and order, under the command of their local thana ‘superiors’. No other training or qualifications are necessary. The current monthly “salary” is
Rs 9000, increased by Rs 5500 in 2019. Probation period: two years. The work week lasts six days and shifts can last 12 hours a day.
There are approximately 130,000 such volunteers, mostly recruited from student and youth organizations affiliated with the TMC. In retirement, a
a lump sum payment of approximately Rs 150,000/200,000 is assured. If there are other benefits, allowances or benefits, they are not officially mentioned.
In the meantime, their working hours can be exceptionally onerous. As well as performing extended traffic duties during the hot and heavy Kolkata summer
rains, they must also assist uniformed police in maintaining law and order when mob violence erupts. Many were injured in the violence, but
there have also been public complaints about the allegedly rough and abusive behavior of some volunteers. Opposition parties claim that
the TMC also uses these volunteers to organize violence during the election period, to intimidate voters!
The current arrangement provides a daily income of Rs 300 to these volunteers, who must carry letters of recommendation from local TMC leaders.
Many volunteers, especially the graduates among them, are understandably frustrated because even unskilled bricklayers in the real estate industry earn
between Rs 350 and Rs 450 per day, while experienced masons/wall painters earn more. Ditto, private bus drivers and guides.
Again, masons and transport workers in most other states in the India earn on average between Rs 500 to Rs 800 in Kerala, Haryana or Uttar
Pradesh, according to union sources.
There has been no explanation as to why daily earnings from work are so low in West Bengal, and why government employees have not received their
DA payments for years either by the TMC Labor Minister or by the leaders of the INTTUC, the TU wing of the party. (API Service)