Srinagar: After qualifying MSc in Information Technology, Naveed Ahamd has been receiving a salary of Rs 300 per month as a Contingent Paid Worker (CPW) in education department of Kashmir.
35-year-old Ahmad was appointed as CPW in 2003 and since then he has been doing odd jobs in the education department to be paid just Rs 300 every month.
“I am ashamed to tell you about my salary and every time I feel humiliation when someone enquires about it. Even the pocket money of class 5th kid is more than 1000 but receiving Rs 300 as a salary is just a joke for us,” he says.
“Government has time and again deceived us. They are violating the minimum wage act according to which we should be granted a minimum of Rs 8,000 every month,” Ahmad rues.
He said that the government on one hand claims to develop Kashmir and minimise unemployment but on other hand they are pushing qualified youth of Kashmir to the wall.
According to the minimum wages act 1948, the worker should be paid the level of income, who is working in any institution, which will ensure a basic standard of living including good health, dignity, comfort, education and provide for any contingency.
However, to keep in mind an industry’s capacity to pay the Act has defined a ‘fair wage’.
Fair wage is that level of wage that not just maintains a level of employment, but seeks to increase it keeping in perspective the industry’s capacity to pay.
However, the education department has violated minimum wages act by paying CPWs with meagre salaries and has not increased it over the years.
“We have been working in the education department as CPWs for the last 40 years on meagre salaries. There are around 4,000 educated CPWs who are suffering for more than 30 years. In 2011, government took us under SRO 308 accordingly to which department has been asked to recruit half of the workers through SSRB and half through direct recruitment in the department and many CPWs were recruited as per the rules under SRO 308 after conducting departmental promotion committee in 2013 and 2017,” said another CPW.
However, since 2017 the department has failed to hold DPC in favour of CPWs and have not even paid their salaries.
“We have been asked to submit files for verification but nothing has been done. Our files have been piled up in the department for want of attention. Many among us have reached the retirement age and the department has been working with snail speed. Officials sitting at the helm of affairs do not care, they are destroying life of qualified youth,” General Secretary, All Department Contingent Paid Worker Association Kashmir, Mohammad Shafi Reshi told Free Press Kashmir.
Adding that “from dusting schools to snow clearance, from election duties to dog watching in schools, from protecting schools from blaze during unrest to night duties, the department has always put our lives in risk but we have never disobeyed. When during the unrest of 2016 or 2019 officials were resting in their cosy rooms we were working in the field risking our lives.”
He said that RTs have been given class fourth grade due to which 85 posts in Anantnag district have been frozen.
Senior Trade Union leader, President EJAC, Fayaz Ahmad Shabnam in a statement has demanded regularisation and release of genuine pending wages in favour of Contingent Paid Employees of the Education Department who have been serving the department for years.
Fayaz Ahmad Shabnam said that these employees have been working tirelessly for safeguarding of schools on meagre wages with which they are not able to make their two ends meet.
Director School Education Dr Younis Malik said, “the matter is in our notice and we have taken up the issue with higher ups. They were getting wages from the office expenditure (OE) but since education was granted free their wages also were halted. We have taken care of that and they will be paid according to the minimum wages act.”