PSC delays selection, Bengal to hire retirees
Re-hired staff will be paid a fraction of the normal salary and will not be given pension and gratuity
West Bengal intends to hire about 10,000 retired employees and pay
them a fraction of regular salaries to save costs.
The state government announced this on 5 February, soon after it
rejected a panel of 4,700 people the Public Service Commission
(PSC) had selected. There are at least 150,000 vacancies in the
state government, official estimates show.
The retired employees will be re-hired through interviews by
government officers, will be paid a fraction of the normal salary
and will not be given benefits such as pension and gratuity. For
instance, people hired at the lowest grade will be paid Rs.
a month against a normal salary of Rs.
10,000, an officer dealing
with the hiring said on condition of anonymity. The state spends
36,000 crore on pensions and salaries a year, which is
approximately 67% of its total expenditure, leaving little for
development initiatives. For the year ending 31 March, development
expense in the state is expected to be around Rss.
12,000 crore, only one-third of what it spends on its employees.
The state’s finance department said the decision is not related to the
cash crunch but to the delays by PSC in preparing a panel, according to a secretary in the finance department, who declined to be named.
Amit Mitra, the state’s finance minister, declined to comment.
This isn’t the first time the state government is hiring former employees.
Several departments such as food supplies, agriculture and land reforms
have done so in the past. This time, too, the move has triggered a controversy. Trade unions opposed to the ruling Trinamool Congress alleged the decision is aimed at creating incentives for employees loyal to the party.
“By dangling this carrot, the government is only trying to buy loyalty among people in service,” said Shyamal Mitra, organizing secretary of the Confederation of State Government Employees. The union is backed by the Indian National Trade Union Congress (Intuc), the labour arm of the Congress party, an ally of the Trinamool Congress.
The selection is almost always influenced by the party in power, Mitra said, referring to re-employment of former state employees in agriculture, land
reforms and food supplies departments under the Left rule, which ended last year.
The scales are different, said Ananta Bandopadhyay, general secretary of the coordination committee—the union of state government employees backed by the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (Citu)—defending the erstwhile Left Front government.
Only a few top officers, say around 20 at a time, were hired earlier, he said, adding that now it is being extended to the lowest grade employees with a clear intention of encouraging them to be loyal to the ruling party.
Rebutting allegations of the trade unions, Javed Khan, the state’s minister for fire services, said a panel of secretaries is going to select people to be re-employed. His department is contemplating hiring 2,500 retired government employees. The state’s law minister Moloy Ghatak said there was nothing illegal in hiring former employees and there was no alternative because PSC had taken long to select people. S. Mondal, secretary of PSC, declined to comment.
Source : Livemint.