Salaries pending for 24 months; no response yet from government
Various sections of government employees have started a strike demanding payment of salaries and allowances pending for nearly 24 months. The Manipur government is unable to pay salaries and allowances ahead of Ningol Chakkouba, the biggest festival, to be celebrated on Thursday.
The employees expect no solution to the crisis as Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, also in charge of the Finance Ministry, is in Australia on a prolonged private visit. Chief Secretary D.S. Poonia and other top officials too are out of station on leave.
The financial crunch has resulted in a moratorium on all cash transactions. While some sections of employees are denied their salaries, contractors have also been denied payments. Some have suspended construction works as they cannot buy materials and pay the workers.
The restive employees of the Imphal Municipal Council came out of their offices on Monday warranting intervention of the riot police. The employees immediately launched an indefinite ‘cease work’ demanding payment of salaries.
“Garbage has not been cleared from Tuesday morning in Imphal,” secretary of the Imphal Municipal Council Employees' Union Subita Thoudam told The Hindu. She said it was inexcusable that salaries were not paid ahead of the festival, when married daughters and sisters are invited to a sumptuous lunch. The officials have sought 20 days for the payments, but it was merely a ploy to buy time as assurances had never been kept, she added.
Employees of five departments — PWD, public health engineering, irrigation and flood control, minor irrigation and electricity — are to launch an indefinite strike from November 20 if the salaries pending for 19 months were not paid by November 19.
They have been staging a sit-in since November 6 but there was no response from the government. They had submitted a memorandum to Mr. Ibobi Singh for clearing the salaries.
Deputy Chief Minister G. Gaikhangam is looking after the office of the Chief Minister during the absence of Mr. Singh. Official sources said Mr. Gaikhangam is merely disposing of routine files and not authorised to take major policy decisions.