'Wrong' criterion disqualifies 70% daily-wage workers for jobs

Around seventy percent of the tens of thousands of daily-wage workers of various government departments fall short of the ten-year service length criterion fixed to qualify them as permanent employees, despite having worked for longer than that period. This turns out so because the authorities are not calculating the service period for which the wage labourers were not paid though they worked for that period.

In December 2017, the J&K government started a process to regularise services of those daily-wage workers who had served for ten years or more.

But, the specific criterion of not counting periods of service for which payments were withheld or never released by the government has angered a majority of the 61000 daily wage-labourers who have put in ten years or longer. According to them this is a “wrong” criterion which being adopted for their regularisation.

The 2017 government decision for permanaent jobs to the daily-wage workers was taken after a two-decade long “struggle” by them for the demand.

“We are paid our earned wages on the occasion of festivals like Eid, Diwali and Holi. Out of twelve months in a year, we are often paid renumerations for just five to eight months, that too when we take streets,” said Sajad Ahmad Parray, president of the casual and daily wagers joint forum – an amalgam of various daily-rated workers’ associations.

A government committee constituted under SRO-520, headed by principal secretary finance department examines regular engagement of daily-rated workers and determines eligibility in each case.

“Seventy percent daily-rated workers are falling short of length in service as the empowered committee is not considering the months as length of our service for which authorities didn’t pay us our earned wages,” said Parray.

He rued the criterion saying it was sheer injustice to disqualify wage-workers even after having spent 15 years in service of the government departments that now take into account only “wages drawn period” than the entire official attendance.

This despite the concerned officials and departments testifying in writing that particular wage workers have been serving from ten years or longer, and that wages were not paid or released for specific periods that should count as service.

In 2018, the daily-rated workers demanded the government release unpaid wages during their engagement of 18 years.

“However, the government promised us to expedite our regularisation process and convinced us to not seek withheld wages of past 18 years. We agreed as government assured that it will be counted as working period,” Parray said.

The SRO-520 draws up the eligibility criteria clearly.

“CSLW (casual-daily rated worker) should have completed ten years of continuous service and must be working in department as on date,”  it says, without mentioning anything like “wages drawn period” for deciding eligibility in individual cases. 

Principal secretary finance could not be reached for comments.

SRO-520 is to benefit nine categories of appointees who are entitled to monthly remuneration from Rs 10000 to Rs 24000, depending on their term of service.

The cut-off date for regularisation is 17 March 2015.