KOLKATA: West Bengal government employees under the banner of the State Government Employees' Council are considering observing full-day pen-down strike on February 20-21 in support of the demand for payment of dearness allowances (DA) arrears.
A discussion on these lines began just a day after West Bengal minister of state for finance (independent charge) Chandrima Bhattacharya announced an additional three per cent DA for the current and pension-holding retired state government employees.
However, the announcement could not satisfy the state government employees who have been agitating on the streets of Calcutta since January 27.
They say that even after the announcement of the additional three per cent DA, the gap of the state government employees with that of their counterparts in the Union government remains 32 per cent.
Already, on February 13 the state government observed a symbolic 30-minute pen down strike in different corners of the day. Now they have decided to go for a full-day pen- down strike for two consecutive days to put pressure on the state government on this count.
Already the joint forum of state government employees had sent communiques to the state secretariat and West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) threatening to boycott election duties for the forthcoming polls for the three-tier panchayat system in the state unless their DA arrears are paid.
"The Calcutta High Court has already observed that DA is not any gift of charity but rather the legitimate right of the state government employees. Still the state government is prolonging the process.
In such a situation we have to go for the path of a bigger agitation to get our legitimate rights," said Bhaskar Gosh, one of the agitating employees.
The leader of the opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari said the announcement of three per cent additional DA on Wednesday was just an eyewash.
"The matter relating to payment of DA arrears will be coming up for hearing at the Supreme Court of India any time. The state government is sniffing that the result there might not be favourable for them. So, they announced this additional three per cent DA as a shield," Adhikari said.
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