Over 5,000 GTA casual staff threaten halt, demands regularization

Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, Nov. 19: Over 5,000 casual employees of the GTA today launched an agitation demanding immediate regularization of their jobs with a poster campaign and threatened to bring the hill body to a halt.

The agitation has come when over 500 voluntary teachers are seeking regularization of their jobs, their protest hampering classes in several educational institutions in the hills.

Deepak Sharma, the spokesman for the Jamukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan, which is affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said: "Calcutta High Court had issued a directive to the state government on May 14 to convene a meeting with representatives of the GTA within four months to decide how it would set in motion the process of absorbing the casual employees. However, instead of starting the process, the government filed an appeal against this directive in the high court in August."
Over 5,000 GTA casual staff threaten halt, demands regularization
Deepak Sharma and Kisan Gurung in Darjeeling on Thursday. Picture by Suman Tamang 
The casual employees, who are the workforce of the GTA, said their patience was running out. "We have decided to launch an agitation. From today, we started plastering posters across the hills demanding job regularisation. In the days to come, we will intensify our agitation and will not hesitate to bring the GTA to a grinding halt," said Sharma.

The 5,000 GTA casual employees make up almost 80 per cent of the hill body's workforce.

Kisan Gurung, the general secretary of the organisation, said: "We want the state government to immediately withdraw the appeal in the high court and announce its decision to regularise our jobs at the next bipartite meeting scheduled to be held in Darjeeling on December 15. Until that meeting, we will continue to intensify our agitation."

He did not list out the details of the agitation.

The Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO), the body of voluntary teachers in the Darjeeling hills, has also decided to launch a relay hunger strike at Lal Kothi here from tomorrow. "We will also meet state education minister Partha Chatterjee in Kalimpong tomorrow to discuss the matter," said Vivek Newar, the secretary of the organisation.

The organisation is demanding the regularisation of jobs of 515 voluntary teachers who have been working in various schools.

Source Telegraph

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