GHADC authorities dismiss agitation threat, maintains normal office will function

Strike posters come up in council colony

TURA, Sept 18: The Garo Hills Autonomous District Council authorities in Tura have maintained that there will be no disruption to normal office functioning from the first working day of next week, even as posters in the name of its employees union have come up overnight calling for a strike from Monday.

Worried about the possible impact of any strike given recent history when the council functioning grounded to a half for months at an end, the authorities of GHADC were quick to respond.

“It has come to the notice of the authorities of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, Tura that certain news items/articles pertaining to agitation by some employees starting from 20th September (Monday) have been circulating in the social/print media. In this regard, this is to inform the general public that the GHADC office shall remain open and shall function as on normal days,” a notice by the Joint Secretary mentioned on Saturday.

The statement comes after multiple posters propped up outside the GHADC headquarters in Tura in the name of the Non-Gazetted Employees Association that called for release of their pending salaries under the new pay scale and reinstatement of their leaders.

The employees want the GHADC to pay them their salaries under the 5th pay scale as assured by the previous EC led by Dipul Marak, but the decision was struck down and kept in abeyance in the light of the financial crisis plaguing the oldest autonomous body in the Garo Hills.

Close to three months of staff protest and strike, this year, had the demand for an updated pay scale but the employees had to ultimately settle for the previous scale on account of the fund crunch.

While the new NPP led Executive Committee headed by Benedic Marak as CEM did assure the then striking employees of the revised scale as and when sufficient funds are made available, the latest decision to pay four months of pending dues under the old regime scale has ruffled feathers, prompting the staff to threaten protests.

According to inputs given to the press on Saturday evening by Deputy CEM Nikman Ch Marak, the GHADC is to get twenty crores of rupees from the state government as part of its share of royalty from transport and forest taxes.

The Deputy CEM has clarified that under the old scale a sum of four crore rupees is required to pay one month’s salary of the council staff. As such, four months of dues, totalling Rs 16 Crore, will be paid to the employees while the remaining four crore rupees would be held back to pay those employees who have resigned, retired as well as gratuity.

Reinstatement demand: But the employees are not settling for just the revised scale of pay. They are demanding the reinstatement of their colleagues who have been axed from service for leading the agitation all those past couple of months.

The president of the NGEA, Senora Johny Arengh, who was an LDA in the Taxation Branch of the GHADC was suspended for insubordination and subsequently terminated from service after his show cause reply was found to be “challenging and counter allegation in nature”.

The remaining top leaders of the employees association (NGEA) Brithen M Sangma (NGEA Secretary), Flamingbird B Marak (Joint Secretary, NGEA), Balseng M Sangma (Adviser to NGEA), Augustbell R Marak (Adviser, NGEA), Henyvirth Marak, Mentu A Sangma and Francis R Marak remain under suspension for recent protests in which they were blamed for instigating mob violence by the authorities.

“We want the immediate reinstatement of all our NGEA leaders,” demand the association members through their posters.

However, the council authorities are nonchalant about this demand as they cite the indiscipline of the leaders of the NGEA and the breakdown of law and order during their protests, three months ago.

“There is already a committee looking into all these aspects and they will decide the steps to be taken,” claims CEM Benedic Marak.

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