MGNREGA staff calls for 5-day strike from Feb 4 against Minister’s remarks 

Srinagar: Staff working under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on Thursday announced five day strike beginning from February 4 against what they termed as “highly condemnable” statement by Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Abdul Haq in the just concluded state assembly session.

“The minister Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Abdul Haq has gravely hurt the sentiments of the staff working under MGNREGA by lying in the state legislative assembly about the nature of our employment and that travelling allowance, compensatory allowance or border allowance is paid to us,” said President of MGNREGA Association Sandeep Kalotra to CNS and called for state-wide shutdown from Saturday, February 4.

“If our demands, which we have put across a number of times to the minister and concerned authorities, are not full filled, we will intensify our protest,” he said. 

Sandeep contended the minister’s claims that the members of staff are not the government employees’, underlining that they were engaged after selection by district selection board framed by state’s Rural Development Department.

“No TA, CA and border allowance is paid to any employee except programme officers and the statement of the minister is absolutely wrong. Let him give proof where he has given TA, CA or border allowance to engineering, GRS staff etc,” Sandeep , flanked by Jan Mohammad, vice president of MGNREGA Association, added.  

 “The Commissioner Secretary Rural Development Department in 2014 releases a SRO-255 in favour of MGNREGA staff for their future but till date there is no implementation of the SRO by State government,” he said and accused the ruling government of playing with the interests of the youth. “If SRO-255 is there, why it has not been implemented unless the minister has some interests, covert or overt. Most of the staff is now overage for any government job,” he said, adding, “We cannot apply for fresh jobs. Instead of playing with our interests, the government needs to provide job security to the staff which comprises of high qualified and talented engineers, DRS, PO, MIS computer operators, etc.”

 The association also urged Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to intervene and have a comprehensive job policy for them.

On Monday, Minister Abdul Haq informed the Legislative Assembly that presently there was no specific policy framework for the employees engaged under MGNREGA in the State.

Replying to a Question by MLA Gulzar Ahmed Wani, Haq said that the supporting staff was engaged purely on contractual basis and remuneration and compensation was being paid on the basis of performance or on fixed pay basis, out of the administrative expenses under MGNREGA. “They are not the government employees, therefore question of their regularization does not arise.

However, in 2014, the department has accorded sanction to grant Travelling Allowance, Compensatory Allowance, Border Allowance and leave in favor of the contractual employees engaged under the scheme,” he added.

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