Enhancement of retirement age not possible: Govt.

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Secretariat gherao foiled, scores of employees arrested; Members show concern about ‘back door entries’

SRINAGAR: Agitating government employees were cane charged and scores detained by police when they tried to surround (gherao) Civil Secretariat here on Saturday.

Work at government offices was affected as a section of employees stayed away from work and tried to march from Sher-i-Kashmir Park towards Civil Secretariat.

Employee leaders said, “Government is using every tool to crush our voice. We are demanding our genuine rights which government has to fulfill at any cost.” They said some political leaders were playing politics over this issue which was pathetic on their part.

Meanwhile Finance Minister and Chairman Cabinet Sub Committee (CSC), Abdul Rahim Rather on Saturday out-rightly refused to enhance the retirement age of the state employees and alleged the employees’ leaders were showing rigidity resulting in the trouble for common men.

Earlier State government asked the legislative assembly to take a decision about enhancing the retirement age of the state government employees from 58 to 60-yrs.

However replying to a question in the assembly Rather said: “We don’t see any possibility of this (enhancement of retirement age). From Rs 5,000 crore, the budget on employee’s salaries has skyrocketed to Rs 16,000 crore.”

He alleged the employees of choosing path of confrontation whenever the government tried to solve their problems. “We always try to solve the employee’s demands through talks. But they (employees) are taking to roads creating a lot of inconvenience for the common people,” Rather said while hastening to put the ball in the court of the house regarding the final decision on the matter.      

“But that doesn’t sound the end of the road here. Let this house take the final call on the enhancement of the retirement age. Being supreme any unanimous decision taken here would be accordingly discussed by the government,” Rather added.    

He said that government has decided to act tough against the employees remaining absent from their duties. Rather said that “equal work would fetch equal money” to the employees who he added have got used to get paid for striking their works.    

“We never sought to lock horns with the employees but their rigidity is not only creating problems for the common people but is leading to stalemate with the state government,” said Rather while citing the concerns of the civil society, trade fraternity and the unemployed youth in enhancing the retirement age of the state employees from present 58 to 60.     

“We have to take them (civil society, trade fraternity and the unemployed youth, trade fraternity and the unemployed youth on board before finalizing anything. The concern of the unemployed youth is of prime concern for us,” added Rather while claiming that present government has addressed many concerns of the employees.   He said that when NC-Cong coalition took over the reins of the state in 2009 the implementation of the 6th pay commission was done on fast track basis for the benefit of the employees here.    

The NC legislator, however, admitted that many daily wagers have been appointed outside the government’s knowledge. “When employee leadership came up with the regularization of the daily wagers we asked all the concerned departments to detail about their exact strength in various departments in the state,”  asserted Rather.      

From the total strength of 58,000, he said that government had to oust many daily wagers after finding their appointment done on ‘unauthorized’ grounds. “These employees were appointed by the officers and many other influential people. We had to crack a whip on them and oust them. However, those appointed as per norms are drawing their salaries,” the Finance Minister said.     

Earlier, the opposition PDP, BJP, Panthers Party and CMI (M) created a ruckus on the employee’s demands in the house. The PDP legislators raised a hue and cry over the backdoor appointments made during the present government’s tenure.    

Tarigami asked the government to solve the problems of the employees through talks. He also demanded those arrested should be released immediately and cases against them should be withdrawn.     

“The employees are our own. How can you treat them differently? Resolve their matters peacefully. Release the arrested employees and withdraw cases against them,” insisted the CPI (M) leader.    

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said that government has created much confusion in the process of dealing with the employees. She said that while government is adamant not to increase the retirement age of the employees the re-employment of top notch officer has been going on for the last five years.     

“Top-ranked officials have been re-employed drawing salaries in lakhs besides pension benefits of their previous posts. But in the enhancement of the retirement age of state employee’s government is citing financial constraints and engagement of unemployed youth behind it,” Mehbooba told the house while also demanding immediate release of the arrested employees and withdrawal of cases against them.     

PDP MLA from Pahalgam Rafi Mir said that 50 youth were engaged through backdoor appointments in Floriculture department in Pahalgam who were later disengaged following protests over their appointment. Another PDP legislator, Javid Mustafa Mir alleged that need based and daily wagers are not paid their wages.     

While rejecting the enhancement in the retirement age of the employees, MLA Langate Er. Rashid, however, said that without playing any politics govt. should address other demands of the employee’s forthwith.      

He said that JKPCCC Chief Saif-ud-din Soz J&K- Saif-ud-Din Soz supports the enhancement of the retirement age outside the assembly but the same party (Congress) refuses to come clean on the issue inside the house. 

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