Ray backs ‘wage hike’ demand for MNREGS workers in isles

Report by: 
KURMA RAO
Mayabunder
4 Mar 2018

In a big morale booster for scores of workers engaged under the MNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) of the Union Government, the Member of Parliament, A & N Islands, Mr Bishnu Pada Ray has demanded hike in consolidated wages of the set of workers employed in different districts of the territory. During his recent visit to different parts of these islands, MNREGA workers expressed strong resentment over the apathy of the administration in considering the wage hike demand, which was last revised in the year 2012.
“Wages of workers employed in different categories under the MNREGA scheme was last revised in June 2012. As per the revision effective till date, staff engaged on contract basis as Programme Officer, Assistant Engineer, Accountant, Data Entry Operator, Gram Rozgar Sevak and Technical Assistant are being paid Rs 20,000/-, Rs 16,000/-, Rs 12,000/-, Rs 11,000/-, Rs 11,000/- and Rs 11,000/- respectively. On the contrary, employees working for another Central Sponsored Scheme, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), have been benefited from wage revision. Incumbents posted as District Programme Manager, District Accounts Manager, Accountant and Data Entry Operator, under NRHM, are paid Rs 42,175/-, Rs 39,000/-, Rs 24,948/- and Rs 22,176/- respectively per month, which is  more than double than that paid to their counterparts employed under MNREGA,” said the Member of Parliament, in a letter submitted to the Lt. Governor recently.
Considering the spike in cost of living, price index of essential commodities, the administration has enhanced the minimum wages of daily rated workers working in different categories in both the government and private sectors with effect from Jan 1, 2018. But MNREGA workers, despite being highly technical skilled workers, are still paid wages much less than daily rated workers. Even demands submitted by Unions representing the workers have not being considered till date, said Mr Ray urging the Lt. Governor to consider revision of consolidated pay of MNREGA workers.
The MNREGA Employees Association, A & N Islands, Mayabunder Unit, has also expressed anguish for the failure of the administration to consider the demand for wage revision in spite of repeated pleas. In a letter to the administration, the Secretary of the Association said that the indifference of the administration has forced the workforce to mull over holding protest to press for the legitimate demand. “Besides being lowly paid compared to workers employed under other centrally sponsored schemes, employees working for MNREGA are deprived of any kind of allowances or increment except for 2 ½ days of leave in a month and 12 weeks of maternity leave for female employees. Extension of benefits like EPF, government leave rules, yearly salary increment etc. remains a fary cry for us. The administration is acting contrary to the Apex Court principle of equal pay for equal work whereas the same has been implemented for daily rated workers working for government departments by way of providing 1/30th of pay scale plus dearness allowance,” said the Secretary of the Association.