Days after the Tamil Nadu government finally approved pay hikes for state government employees based on the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, government employees still remain a disgruntled lot.
Representatives of the Joint Action Council of Teachers Organisations-Government Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO) say the government has disappointed them by not going far enough in implementing all the demands they had raised.
One of the main objections from teachers and government employees is that the government has failed to retrospectively apply the recommended pay hike from January 2016, when it was implemented by the Central government. In the process, they say, government employees are being denied 21 months worth of arrears under the new pay scheme.
Daniel, JACTO-GEO convener told TNM, “We had been asking for the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission from 2016, but they have implemented it only from October 1, 2017.”
JACTO-GEO representatives also say that the pay hikes sanctioned by the TN government fall short of Central government levels for various sections of employees.
“Secondary grade teachers were to be granted a minimum salary of Rs 9300 and a maximum of Rs 34,800, with a grade pay of Rs 4200. But the TN government has granted a minimum of only Rs 5200 and a maximum of only Rs 20,000 with a grade pay of Rs 2400,” said Subramaniyan, State Co-ordinator of JACTO-GEO. He added that many other classes of employees such as office assistants, block development officers, tehsildars and so on had similarly been offered lower hikes than expected.
“As these pay anomalies have not been rectified, employees will suffer a loss of between Rs 48000 and Rs 1 lakh per year,” Subramaniyam said.
“Last year, Jayalalithaa had promised that mid-day meal employees’, Anganwadi employees’, panchayat secretaries’ and village officers’ pay would be increased. But now they have been granted just a Rs 1200 increase in pay after 10 years,” he added.
Employee representatives complain that similar shortfalls have also occurred in the case of pensions being offered to retirees. The government has also not agreed to provide regular pay with all the attendant benefits to all those receiving consolidated pay.
While JACTO-GEO had launched stiff protests before the state government approved the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, they will not immediately go down the protest route as the matter is still being heard by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, said Daniel. The matter came before the HC bench as complaints were filed against JACTO-GEO for protesting for revised pay in contravention of service rules.
“We have not informed the government about the anomalies as the case is coming up for hearing. We will inform the court about the issues with the pay commission and wait for the response. After the court’s order, we will take a decision,” said Daniel.
The demands of the government employees has also received high level political support, with DMK Working President MK Stalin raising questions about the implementation of the Pay Commission by the government. Among other things, Stalin objected to the employees being denied 21 months of arrears, of not receiving the minimum salaries recommended by the Central Government, and of not receiving proper hikes in perks such as house rent and medical allowances.
JACTO- GEO had carried out protests for over a week in September, demanding a pay revision and the revival of the old pension scheme. On September 15, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had ordered the government employees and teachers’ associations to suspend their protests and resume work. The court had also ordered the government to implement the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission by October 13.
On Wednesday, a meeting of the State Cabinet meeting approved the Seventh pay Commission recommendations for state government employees, and sanctioned a hike of around 20% in salaries of the various grades of employees.