Over 1.5k forest workers threaten to boycott work

22 April 2020

Published by https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

INDIA – Dehradun: Miffed with non-payment of salaries for the past 10 months now, more than 1,500 outsourced workers of the forest department have threatened to boycott work during this crucial forest fire season in Uttarakhand. Seeing no other option, these workers have now approached the labour department to seek some financial aid.
These outsourced staff members include those who work as Prantiya Rakshak Dal (PRD) jawans, fire watchers, beat watchers, rescue centre workers, drivers, and computer operators, among others.

Incidentally, these workers were promised a wage hike by state forest minister Harak Singh Rawat during the last winter season. During that time, the forest department had assured these workers that they would be given their salaries on the 5th of every month.
They were also promised some extra support through Employee Provident Funds and State Insurance. But none of these assurances have yet seen daylight.
“Forget increased salaries, we now just hope for timely payment of our dues. We know that a hike in our wages during this crisis will further burden the state exchequer and we are ready to let that go but at least our salaries should not be held back for this long,” said Chandra Prakash, president of Dainik Samvida Outsource Karmachari Sangh Van Vibhaag, Uttarakhand. Notably, Prakash has been working with the state forest department in Kalagarh at Pauri district for more than ten years now.
This is not the first time when these outsourced workers have raised this issue.
“It has become a sort of a culture to hold back our salaries. It is happening more frequently now. Last year, we had to boycott work for almost a week to get our dues. How will someone survive the lockdown when he has not been paid his dues for months? We hope that the top officials consider our plea and offer us some relief at the earliest,” said Chandrakant Joshi, vice-president of the above mentioned union from Nainital.
Meanwhile, a senior IFS officer of the forest department told TOI, “The lockdown has impacted the entire system. Their salaries are already processed and will soon be released.”

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