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Employees’ strike paralyses Manipur government

The indefinite strike launched by Manipur government employees, demanding higher salaries, has crippled the functioning of the state administration for the past five days, officials said Wednesday.

The Joint Administrative Council of Employees’ Organisations (JACEO), the apex body of the Manipur government employees, is spearheading the agitation which started Jan 16, demanding implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations.        

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh Tuesday appealed to the agitating employees to end the stir and concentrate on their administrative work, as the financial year was coming to an end.        

JACEO secretary general Ch. Chandramani Singh told reporters Wednesday: "There is no question of withdrawing the agitation. We shall even intensify our stir until the state government met our demand."        

The chief minister, who also holds the finance portfolio, told reporters his government would not be able to pay arrears according to the Pay Commission’s recommendations (from Jan 1, 2006), but promised enhanced pay from April this year.        

"The government cannot think only of the 60,000 government employees, but also should think about the 2,400,000 people in the north-eastern state," he said.        

The state government employees have been agitating occasionally since November 2008, demanding hike in their salaries. The stir was called off October last year after Ibobi Singh promised the employees that the government would consider the demand after receiving grant from the 13th Finance Commission.        

The functioning of the administration and government works had been paralysed for more than three months after the employees went on a similar agitation Nov 27, 2008.        

The chief minister expressed his government’s inability to hike the salaries due to paucity of funds.        

According to the state finance department, the government is now spending about Rs.10.80 billion annually to pay salaries. To implement the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, the government has to spend an additional Rs.3.25 billion annually.        

"The Manipur government has been providing salaries to the all India service officers and bureaucrats as per the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission even as the government is citing shortage of funds to provide due higher salaries of general employees," Ch. Chandramani Singh added.        

–Indo-Asian News Service        

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