BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has decided to disengage all casual and contractual employees once their contract period is over. The move comes as part of the austerity measures to rationalise expenditure in the wake of the Covid-19 triggered economic crisis. The decision will snatch away livelihood of about 2 lakh families and render an equal number of people jobless.
“After careful consideration, the Government has been pleased to decide that persons who are engaged on outsourcing basis, are to be paid their entitlement as per the terms and conditions of engagement till the contract period ends,” said office memorandum of the Finance department. The memorandum issued by Finance Secretary Ashok Meena further said if the contract period ends within the lockdown period, then the entitlements to be paid till the end of the contract period.
While putting a ban on fresh engagement till the lockdown is lifted, the memorandum said there would not be automatic renewal of contract of those who have been engaged directly by the Government offices. Curiously, there is no restriction of re-engagement of retired government employees. “Retired government servants re-employed on pay minus pension basis are excluded from this stipulation (restriction),” the memorandum read. The decision to layoff around two lakh contractual workers comes at a time when these employees were expecting a hike in their monthly remuneration as per the recommendation of the Seventh Pay Commission.
A majority of these contractual workers including engineers and law officers have been serving for 10 to 15 years at a consolidated monthly pay of Rs 8,880 to Rs 10,000, which is less than the minimum wage of the Government for highly skilled people. Describing the decision unfortunate, undesirable and inhuman, senior Congress leader and former finance minister Panchanan Kanungo said the Government is shamelessly rehabilitating retired Government servants for years despite restriction on such appointments.
“The Government has pushed them to uncertainty when they need the job the most because of the pandemic situation,” Kanugo remarked. Reacting sharply to the decision, State BJP president Samir Mohanty urged the Government to show some mercy on the two lakh families by rescinding the order forthwith.