THE STATE government has ruled out giving workers of Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) the status of government employees. Instead, the government is considering setting up a separate state corporation to address their concerns and resolving their financial issues.
Cooperation Minister Balasaheb Patil told APMC unions, “Government will work on a friendly model to provide better working conditions and income to both APMC and its workers.” He, however, refused to make any commitment to absorb them as government employees.
Highly placed sources in the state government told The Indian Express, “The APMC workers union had demanded to be accommodated as government employees, so that it brings job security and monthly salaries along with other allowances and pensions.” They added that after weighing all pros and cons, however, a cabinet sub-committee dismissed the proposal citing legal and financial aspects.
A senior officer in the state cooperative department said, “If we take the decision to accommodate APMC workers as government employees, it will invite similar demands from various sectors where candidates are recruited on contract basis. The demands will be endless. Second, financially it will not be feasible.”
The officer said the conservative estimate was that if 6,877 workers were absorbed with an average salary of Rs 20,000, the annual expenditure will be Rs 165 crore. Apart from this, there would be other allowances and annual increment that would burden the state exchequer, the officer added.
According to the APMC union, there are 6,877 permanent workers, who are candidates recruited through a process and interview and then assigned specific tasks. Apart from this, there are several thousand daily wage workers appointed on a seasonal basis.
According to Puroshattam Khandalge, APMC union leader, “The government employee status will secure jobs and ensure uninterrupted income,” adding, “there are several APMCs that have not been able to pay salaries to workers for several months. A case in point is Khultabad in Aurangabad market committee, where at least four workers have not received salaries for 22 months.”
The state has 305 APMCs, whose annual turnover is estimated to be Rs 50,000 crore.
Khandalge said, “States like Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have included APMC workers in the government. Why can’t Maharashtra do the same?”
He added that additional funds could be mobilised by marginally raising market cess that will be borne by traders.
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