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GTA to grant permanent status to casual workers

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In what could possibly be a relief to workers employed on casual basis for more than two decades, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha today passed a resolution to grant them permanent status. The Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, in the 1980s, had employed workers on contractual basis by giving them meagre amount as wages. These workers, numbering more than 5,000, were automatically absorbed in the GTA after the DGHC went defunct in 2012. “A resolution was passed today in the Sabha that we will give the state government one month’s time to grant permanent status to the casual workers. If the state government fails to meet our demand, the GTA will appoint these casual workers permanently as per the 2011 agreement. We (GTA) will also give them salaries,” said Bhupendra Pradhan, the GTA Sabha chairman, after the meeting.
Casual workers under the aegis of the JanmuktiAsthayiKarmachariSangathan (JAKS), affiliated to the GorkhaJanmuktiMorcha, had embarked on several failed agitations over the years. In 2009, the then CPM-led state government had even assured to grant permanent status to 3,742 workers, which is yet to be implemented even after a change of regime in Bengal. Another landmark decision taken today by the Sabha was the formation of a seven member “Sub-ordinate Service Selection Committee” that would appoint group B, C and D workers in the council. The members will comprise the GTA principal secretary and secretary, one nominated member, a former MLA, a GJM central committee leader, an advisor and the Sabha chairman. “We will apprise the state government about the resolutions we have adopted, and we will also ensure they are implemented. The selection board will make the appointment according to the norms,” Pradhan said.
Similarly, it has also been decided that the GTA would form a committee to give appointments to 515 (presently working) voluntary teachers and 652 (new) primary teachers. This apart, the Sabha chairman said the GTA would provide salary to 47 teachers of 13 non-recognised upper primary schools in the hills from March onwards. “These teachers have been working for several years without pay. Why should they suffer even after giving free service? It was decided today that the GTA would pay a monthly salary of Rs7,000 to each of them from its fund,” Pradhan said.
As per a decision taken last year in November, the Sabha will sit for a Budget meeting on February 11 and 12, and also make a provision to allow the press and public to witness the proceedings. “People should know how policies and budgets are prepared. The Assembly has such provisions, which we want to incorporate. Our Sabhasads will place the budget prepared in the state Assembly session in March,” the Sabha chairman said, adding that the Monsoon session would be held in May, the Autumn session in August and the Budget session in November.
The 45 elected Sabhasads will also be given Rs30 lakh each a year as area development funds for their respective constituencies. The good news for the five nominated Sabhasads is that the Sabha has decided to increase their monthly salary from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 and also provide them vehicles and other added benefits. Later, in a central committee meeting, GJM president BimalGurung said a one-man one- post policy would be adopted to segregate and lessen the burdens on the Sabhasads and central committee leaders who are presently holding dual posts.(EOI)

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