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Rioters take over Writers

A day-long high drama today ensued at the Writers’ Buildings,the seat of the West Bengal government,when as many as six workers’ unions gave a call to strike work while the CPM-backed union tore down their posters in a bid to counter the strike call.

CPM-backed employees slug it out with Opposition unions that had given a cease-work call,tear down posters and banners

A day-long high drama today ensued at the Writers’ Buildings,the seat of the West Bengal government,when as many as six workers’ unions gave a call to strike work while the CPM-backed union tore down their posters in a bid to counter the strike call.

State government employees,belonging to six organisations backed by the Congress,Trinamool,SUCI and some Naxal groups,had given a cease-work call on Wednesday to press for a hike in salaries and perks. The CPM backed co-ordination committee was the only union that opposed the cease-work call.

When the offices at Writers’ Buildings opened on Wednesday around 10 am,the co-ordination committee members turned up in large numbers and tore down the posters and banners put up by the Opposition unions and replaced these with the ones of their own. The “operation” continued through the day.

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According to sources,around 70 per cent of the employees attended the office against the average of 85 per cent. “Many outsiders,who are not government employees,were seen in the office in place of the staff members who did not turn up during the day in support of the cease-work call,” said Sanket Chakraborty,general secretary of one of the agitating unions.

“We enjoy support of 95 per cent of the government employees. We do not need to hire outsiders to open the office,” said Manoj Guha,leader of the co-ordination committee.

The Opposition unions,however,demanded a secret ballot to decide the main bargaining union for the government employees. “They will be washed away if secret voting takes place,” said Sanket Chakraborty,a union leader.

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The various factions of the state government’s employees’ organisations are unhappy with the pay commission’s recommendation for hike in their salary and other perks. They also demanded immediate payment of arrears.

Last week,state finance minister Dr Asim Dasgupta had announced a pay hike for over 3,50,000 government employees to match those of the Central government employees. Over all,the hike amounted to 32% meaning an additional annual burden of Rs 5,500 crore for the state government. Dasgupta had also announced a payment of arrear for 12 months as the pay commission’s recommendations came into effect with retrospective effect.

First published on: 05-03-2009 at 03:01 IST
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