New Delhi:- Despite the largesse it gave to its 48 lakh employees and 55 lakh pensioners, at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.02 lakh crore with 23.55 per cent hike in pay and allowances, the 7th Pay Commission continues to be a source of an irritant for the Modi government as issues on allowances are not settled.
The Centre had set up a ‘Committee on Allowances’ which met last Thursday under the chairmanship of Union Secretary, Finance (Expenditure) with representatives of the Central government unions.
At the very start of the meeting, representatives of the unions expressed their anguish for ‘non-formation of High Level Committee’. According to them it was agreed to in July by the Group of Ministers (Government of India) for settling the issue of Minimum Wage and Multiplying Factor. The unions want the ‘minimum wage’ for Central employees to be fixed at Rs. 26,000 as opposed to Rs. 18,000 recommended by the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC).
“The Secretary, Finance (Expenditure) told that, the committee constituted under the chairmanship of Addl. Secretary (Exp.) with J.S. (Pers.), JS (Estt.) and JS(Imp.) as Members has been made only for this purpose. Let us believe that, after the meeting, report of the said committee would be sent to the Government of India for its acceptance’’, Mr. Mishra, secretary (Staff Side) of the National Council/Joint Consultative Machinary, noted.
At the meeting, the unions made a strong case for implementation of the allowances to be decided by the Committee from January 1, 2016.
Besides, they wanted that House Rent Allowance be fixed at range 10 to 30 per cent of the basic linked to the classification of the town of posting, children education allowance of Rs. 3,000 and hostel subsidy of Rs.10,000. All these allowances should be tax exempt.
Staff Side demanded inclusion of post-graduate and professional courses in children education allowance. The issue of special duty allowance was also raised for Northeastern region.
Their wishlist extended to ‘Fixed Medical Allowance’ of Rs. 2,000 with Dearness Allowance Indexation, review of overtime allowance, small family allowance and dress allowance.
“Various Departmental Allowances, which have been abolished, should be allowed to continue, like Breakdown Allowance in the Railways and Fixed Conveyance Allowance to Postal Department employees”, Mr. Mishra noted.
Separately, M. Ragaviah, National Federation of Indian Railwaymen-NFIR (an affiliate of Congress trade union INTUC) said, “While there has been no commitment from the Chairman and Official Side of the Committee, the Finance Secretary however stated that further meetings will be held and in the meantime the JCM (Staff Side) may list out common issues and send the same to the Joint Secretary (Imp) and equally Departmental specified issues be sent through the respective Administrative Ministries for examination”.