Darjeeling, Sept. 17: The state government today authorised the DGHC to regularise its contractual staff against about 3,000 sanctioned vacancies, prompting the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to suspend its indefinite hunger strike till Diwali.
The government decision was faxed to Darjeeling district magistrate, the council’s principal secretary, by home secretary Ardhendu Sen, who is also the additional chief secretary, during a marathon eight-hour meeting between the Morcha leaders and the district officials at Lalkothi, the DGHC headquarters.
Morcha supporters had stormed the office of DGHC administrator B.L. Meena at Lalkothi around 9am and laid siege to the building with around 100 contractual workers on the fast occupying the corridors.
At 5.30pm, Morcha leaders read out the fax which stated: “The government has authorised the DGHC to start regularisation process against the sanctioned vacancies in all categories which it is authorised to do as per the existing act and the recruitment rules there under.”
This essentially means that at least 3,472 contractual workers of the DGHC will be made permanent. The total number of workers stands at 6,287 and the fate of the remaining 2,815 will be decided in a meeting to be conveyed in Calcutta “either on coming Tuesday or Wednesday”, the fax read.
The 2,815 extra workers were recruited by Subhas Ghisingh during his 21-year tenure as council chairman.
Morcha president Bimal Gurung said he was happy for being able to “fulfill his promise of regularisation”. “We will ensure that all the workers are regularised and will start a greater agitation after Diwali. However, I would like to tell the government that we want to hold the next meeting (scheduled next week) in Darjeeling as it has been proved that decisions can be taken here also,” he added.
“The DGHC is a big stumbling block to the creation of Gorkhaland. We have to remove the council but more importantly we also have to take care of the contractual employees. Getting their jobs regularised before the council is dissolved is very important to us. We achieved what we had wanted,” said Gurung while announcing the lifting of the indefinite hunger strike which had entered the fourth day today.
Meena said the regularisation would be completed “at the earliest”.
“During the interim period the government has also decided to enhance the salaries by Rs 1,000,” Meena said. The increased pay will be paid with retrospective effect from July 1 this year and the arrears are expected to be disbursed soon. The existing salaries of DGHC contractual workers range between Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000.
Asked about the fate of the “extra workers”, if the regularisation was done under the existing DGHC act, Amar Lama, a central committee members of the Morcha, said: “It is this aspect that took a lot of time during our meeting. We have told the administration that these workers too have slogged for 21 years. Whatever the case, we will ensure that all of them get justice,” said Lama.