Monday, November 29, 1999

Agitating Kashmir employees hold talks with government

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Srinagar, May 15 (IANS) The stalemate between the agitating employees and the Jammu and Kashmir government ended Saturday after a meeting between a cabinet sub-committee and representatives of the employees.The state cabinet Thursday authorised the cabinet sub-committee comprising the finance minister, the rural development minister, the public health engineering minister and the education minister to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the government employees, who went on strike April 3 but called it off later that month after the state high court ruled there was 'no justification' for the agitation.After two-hour long deliberations here with the members of the cabinet sub-committee, Nazir Ahmad Mir, a representative of the Civil Secretariat Employee's Union told IANS: 'The state government has agreed to an eight percent increase in dearness allowance with effect from Jan 1. The government has also agreed to a 2.5 percent increase in house rent allowance which would be paid with the salaries at the end of this month.'The employees were demanding payment of arrears as per the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, enhancement of retirement age from the present 58 to 60 years, as well as revocation of the principle of no work, no pay for those employees who had remained on strike in April - a sore point with the employees.Mir said that the government has also agreed to treat the period of absence in respect of those employees who remained on strike as leave whatsoever due without any break in service.'Significantly, the government also agreed to reduce the pension qualifying service from the present 30 years to 28 years'.On the payment of arrears, Mir aid: 'The cabinet sub-committee has assured us that a roadmap for the payment of arrears as per the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission would be announced within three months as already promised by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.'It has also been decided that the criminal cases registered against the striking employees would be withdrawn by the government, sources here said.As for the enhancement of the retirement age, the cabinet sub-committee has promised the employees their demand would be sympathetically considered and a decision on this would be taken in the near future.

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