Lucknow: After drawing the ire of labour unions for suspension of labour laws, the Yogi Adityanath government’s new austerity measures has now angered the government employees’ organisations in Uttar Pradesh.
At least two unions of government employees – State Employees Joint Council (SEJC) and UP Secretariat Association (UPSA) – have threatened to launch an agitation over the UP government’s decision Tuesday to abolish six types of allowances given to state employees. The move is expected to affect nearly 1.6 million government employees in UP.
According to the unions, the Adityanath government is planning to save around Rs 1,500 crore every month with the decision.
On Wednesday, the office bearers of SEJC, a group of over 100 organisations, held a meeting with the state chief secretary over the issue. However, it was inconclusive.
The meeting came after SEJC wrote a letter to CM Adityanath and the chief secretary, opposing the move, the union’s president Harikishore Tiwari told ThePrint.
Tiwari and UPSA president Yadavindra Mishra called the move in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic “discouraging” and unjust. According to Tiwari, discussions are being held with various organisations to formulate a joint strategy for possible action.
Both the unions have a combined total of over 6 lakh state employees under them.
ThePrint reached the UP government for a comment but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
The abolished allowances
Citing the adverse impact of Covid-19 crisis on revenue collection, the Yogi Adityanath government ordered the abolition of six types of allowances.
According to the order, city compensation allowance, secretariat allowance and special allowance given to the police personnel; special allowance for junior engineers of all departments; research allowance, and orderly and design allowance to the personnel of public works department; and investigation and planning allowance to the employees of the irrigation department, have been scrapped from this month.
Separately, in the state secretariat, an incentive amount paid to some identified officials in all departments at the special secretary and joint secretary-level has also been terminated.
As part of an austerity drive, the Yogi Adityanath government had decided just last month to suspend any increase in dearness allowance to state employees for a period of one and a half years. At the time, it had planned to defer these six allowances from 1 April to 31 March 2021.
According to sources, the scrapping of these allowances could lead to an individual hit of Rs 250 to Rs 900 to an employee, according to the pay-grade. In the case of secretariat staff, it might go up to Rs 2,000.
Plans for agitation
Speaking to ThePrint, State Employees Joint Council president Harikishore Tiwari highlighted that government employees are facing a pay cut now despite working through the pandemic. He said this is “sheer injustice” and if the union’s demands aren’t met, then it would launch a movement.
“Even when the private offices were completely shut down during the coronavirus lockdown, government employees associated with essential services were working all the time. Still their salaries are being cut, which amounts to sheer injustice,” he said.
“At first, the government froze the dearness allowance and now these six allowances have been abolished. At this point of crisis all of us are siding with the government, yet injustice is being done to us. If our demands are not accepted, then very soon all the employees will unite and jointly decide the outline of the movement,” he added.
UP Secretariat Association president Yadavindra Mishra said such a decision is “quite surprising” in times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Despite the omnipresent fear of coronavirus, the government employees are still working but now their salary will be deducted. In this time of calamity, all the employees are working hard. In this backdrop, such a decision by the state government is truly discouraging. Plans are now being made to agitate against this,” he said.
The unions found some support from the opposition in the state. Congress’s state president Ajay Lallu strongly objected to the abolition of allowances paid to the government employees, especially frontline workers.
“Several employees, especially police personnel, doctors, nurses, teachers, technicians, etc., are providing their important contribution at the time of the coronavirus crisis. Still the government is jolting them one after another,” he said.
“Abolishing the allowances of employees is an inhuman, impractical and autocratic decision. At this point of time the state government employees have twice the workload. Eliminating their allowance at this crucial juncture will only discourage them,” he added.
The latest row comes merely days after the Yogi Adityanath government faced criticism over its decision to suspend the labour laws in the state for a period of three years.
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