Bengal questions staff for absence on strike day

March 7th, 2012 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 7 (IANS) Coming down hard on employees who stayed away from work Feb 28 when a strike was called by central trade unions, the West Bengal government Wednesday asked them to give reasons for their absence within seven days.

Those failing to furnish satisfactory replies would face a day’s salary cut, said a government order.

A circular was issued by Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh on the strike eve that none of the employees will be granted leave Feb 28.

In a follow-up to the circular, the government said in an order that absentee employees will be issued show cause notices which would have to be replied within seven days.

“If an employee was hospitalised, or there was bereavement in the family, or in case of severe illness or if he/she was already on leave before Feb 28″, leave will be granted, it said.

Leave will also be granted if the employee could not come to office due to circumstances beyond his or her control. “Leave will not be granted on any other ground,” the government said.

The employees will have to provide proof for the reasons they cite for their absence Feb 28. Unavailability of transport cannot be cited as a reason for leave.

“No salary will be admissible for the day. The period will be treated as dies non (signifying the day will not counted for the purpose of pension or increment),” the government said.

The striking trade unions included the Left parties’ labour arms CITU, AITUC, UTUC, AIUTUC and Congress trade union wing INTUC, besides the BMS, HMS, TUCI and NLO, which joined forces in support of a ten-point charter of demands.

The strikers opposed privatisation and disinvestment of state-run sectors, “unbridled” corruption and price rise and demanded steps for preventing industrial owners from breaking labour laws, social security for unorganised sector workers, amendment in the minimum wage act and abolition of contract worker system.

The government adopted a tough posture ahead of the strike and warned its employees.

Over 84 percent of state secretariat employees turned up for duty Feb 28, which was more than the usual 70-75 percent on other working days.

Commenting on the order, Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said the challenge before the government was to improve work culture in the state.

“The government has nothing to hide. The order is based on a circular issued by the chief secretary before the strike. We had said earlier that government employees don’t have the right to strike,” he said.

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