Friday, July 23, 2010

ASESUA protest against ‘service extension’ again

GANGTOK, July 23: The All Sikkim Educated Self-employed & Unemployed Association (ASESUA) today staged a protest rally in Gangtok shouting slogans against the ‘service extension’ practice of the State government.

The rally saw a handsome turnout as ASESUA members and individuals from various walks of life participated in the rally demanding an immediate stop on the service extension given by the State government to retiring government employees. The rally started from Deorali and ended at Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal Memorial Park near Whitehall under a security cover provided by the Sikkim police.

“The rally has been taken out to raise the voice of the increasing numbers of educated unemployed youth of Sikkim and protest against the practice of the State government to give service extension to retiring government employees”, said ASESUA general secretary Navin Kiran Pradhan to reporters after the rally ended.

“Unemployment is rising every year in Sikkim but the State government is silent on this issue. As per our estimates there are 40,000 unemployed youth in Sikkim and yet the government keeps on extending the service of retiring government employees, most of whom are senior bureaucrats. The service extension practice is blocking the employment prospects of our youth and it should be scrapped by the government in the interests of the youth”, said Pradhan.

The ASESUA general secretary claimed that around 150 government employees have so far received ‘service extension’. “Service extension has become a fashion with almost one retiring employee getting service extension every week. We had filed RTI questions but the State government has failed to give satisfactory response”, he said. He also slammed the retiring bureaucrats for lobbying to get service extension and thereby ‘hogging the post and blocking the way for unemployed youth of Sikkim’.

While admitting that unemployment issue in Sikkim will not be fully addressed by putting an end on the ‘service extension’ practice, Pradhan said that it does not mean that the unemployed youth should ignore whatever employment opportunities are there.

The unemployment problem won’t be solved but at least, some percentage of the unemployed educated youth will get employment in the vacant posts after the employees retire, said Pradhan. We should not let go of any opportunities or employment sources irrespective of the volume, he said.

The ASESUA had been for the past four months voicing its protests against the service extension given to select bureaucrats by the State government. It had also launched a Gandhian type of protest titled ‘Farewell Abhiyan’.

Under this mission, the ASESUA members had been visiting the offices of those employees whose services had been extended. The ASESUA members used to offer a khada (traditional silk scarf) and a red rose to these employees as a symbolic message to them to retire gracefully.

However, the employees somehow used to be out of office on that particular day forcing the ASESUA to leave the token at the office.

After the rally ended, the ASESUA general secretary warned the State government that if the service extension practice continues then the organization will be restoring to other forms of protest activities like hunger strike and blocking the streets.

Next time, we will not be seeking permission from the authorities to do our protests, said Pradhan.

The other demand of the youth body was ‘free and fair recruitment processes by the State government in job vacancies.

“We also want the State government to strictly monitor the private sector in Sikkim and ensure good wages for our youth employed in such private companies. One of the main reasons that the Sikkimese youth lay queue for government employment is that the private sector pays low salaries. We also want the government to ensure that these private companies employ our capable youth in higher posts instead of menial jobs being offered to them presently”, he said.

Pradhan asserted that the State government should monitor the wage packages and facilities of the private companies so unemployment youth are motivated to join the private sector in Sikkim easing the burden on government sector.

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