In what can severely impact the supply of ration and other controlled commodities, more than 1300 labourers of the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CA&PD) have gone on an indefinite strike from March 1 pressing for wage hike.
The protesting labourers have carried out several protest rallies under the banner of Food and Allied Workers Union at Jammu and Srinagar in past some days.
Earlier, the labourers had gone on a strike from January 8 to 28 demanding wage revision to be at par with Food Corporation of India (FCI) workers' wages.
The January strike had majorly impacted supplies of rice and other essential commodities.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Bhushan Das, president of Food and Allied Workers Union, an umbrella body of CAPD labourers, said the daily wage of CAPD workers is Rs 150 while their counterparts in Food Corporation of India get Rs 450 per day. "The work is same for both categories of labourers. The discrimination being meted out to us is unjustifiable and unreasonable," Das said.
According to Das, the CAPD labourers who work under minimum guarantee wage act have also been demanding that per bag rate for loading and unloading be increased from present Rs 3 to Rs 4.30.
Muhammad QasimWani, Joint Director, CAPD said the department has to 'bear the brunt' of such strikes especially when the labourers have gone on a strike in the beginning of the month.
"We have recommended wage hike of labourers of the department to the secretary. We had witnessed a shortfall in supplies when the labourers called strike in January," Wani said.
When contacted, Secretary CAPD SaurabhBhagat said a committee formed under the chairmanship of Advisor to Governer, KhurshidGanai held a meeting on March 1 to discuss the wage hike issue. "This committee has the mandate to work out the financial implications in case per bag rate for loading and unloading is increased. In case the committee recommends increase, we will approach the finance department with the recommendations," Bhagat said.
He said as far the increase in daily wages is concerned, the finance department is the final authority. "FCI is a huge profit making corporation which we cannot be compared with CAPD. In case there is a wage revision, it has to be across the board for labourers of all departments and not CAPD alone," Bhagat said.