Tuesday, December 2, 2008

manipur CM rules out staff salary hike

Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today set the stage for a long-drawn confrontation with the state’s 60,000-odd workforce by ruling out implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations.

“We do not have the capacity to increase the salaries of the about 60,000 government employees. Our financial condition is poor. We do not have our own resources, though we do not oppose the recommendations,” Ibobi Singh said at a government function today.

The chief minister’s statement not only dashed the hopes of the employees but also enraged the joint administrative council, the apex body of various employees’ unions.

“If the government has the will and sympathy for the employees, it will have no problem in implementing the recommendations. The government’s stand should be condemned,” a leader of the employees’ council said.

This is the first time that Ibobi Singh made his stand clear after the employees launched a series of agitation since November 6 demanding implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations.

The employees first wore black badges during office hours. In the second phase that began on November 13, the employees resorted to work-to-rule till 19. Then they launched a pen-down strike from November 20. An indefinite ceasework began on November 27.

Ibobi Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, had remained silent on the demand.

Today he said the government would have to fork out an extra Rs 2,000 crore per month if it were to ensure a pay hike.

“If we increase the pay, the government will not be able to take up any development projects. On top of that, the government will not be able to pay regular salaries to the employees,” the chief minister said.

He also argued that larger states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, which have their own resources, have not implemented the recommendations because of financial trouble.

Ibobi Singh, however, said he would appraise the 13th Finance Commission of the state’s financial health and the demand of the employees.

A team of the commission will visit the state next month.

“I will request the finance commission to extend help to the state government when the team visits Manipur so that salaries can be hiked. If the finance commission is ready to bail us out, the government will not hesitate to implement it (the recommendations),” the chief minister said.

Given Ibobi Singh’s current stand, the employees are unlikely to call off their ceasework in the next few days.

Source : The Telegraph

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