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GTA casual workers in Darj join hands with TMC

The Kalimpong chapter of the association had also joined the TMC on 7 November.

Statesman News Service | Darjeeling/Kurseong |

Amajority of members of the Darjeeling unit of the United Employee Association (UEA), consisting of pay band employees of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), got themselves affiliated to the Trinamul Congress (Hills) today, even as the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (Binoy Tamang camp) launched a new association of the same body in Kurseong.

The Kalimpong chapter of the association had also joined the TMC on 7 November. While the Kalimpong unit had claimed that around 800 members had joined the TMC, the UEA claimed that around 2500 from their Darjeeling unit joined the party today. “In these 30 years or so, no local body or government regularised us.

We used to blame the state government, but it was actually not their fault as in the past they had sent orders in 1995, 97 and then 2009, for regularization of workers in the 3,472 vacant posts. But the ruling party here did not implement the orders,” UEA general secretary Deo Prakash Khawas said.

“We have to hold the hands of those who will fulfill our demands. It is a possible demand, as we are already working in the vacant posts and now want to be regularized,” he added. According to TMC (Hills) leader NB Khawas, around 90 percent of the UEA from Mirik, Darjeeling and Kalimpong are supporting the party.

“As for their demand, they are not asking for news posts, but want to be regularised in the vacant posts. It was sheer lack of will power and attitude for which their demand has not been met yet,” he said.

There are presently more than 4,000 pay band workers, with most having got appointment during the time of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. Meanwhile, the Tamang camp formed its own body of pay band employees called the GTA Karmachari Sangathan in Kurseong where they claimed around 800 of them from different parts of the GTA area were members in the new association.

Speaking at the programme in Kurseong, Morcha leader Anit Thapa said, “The issue of the employees are genuine and till now they are many leaders in the hills who have done nothing. It takes an ability to take up this issue. Many do not speak on this issue with the state, in fear of losing their chair. But I will speak on it and also not mislead the people.” Mr Thapa also said that he was working on the matter and did not understand why they were divided. Probably referring to a statement made by TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP from the Hills, Shanta Chettri, in Kalimpong, Mr Thapa said, “I have heard that the employees would be victimized after this division, but if employees do good work, no one can victimise them. I do not believe in such things.”

He, however, did not name anyone. The UEA was earlier named the Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan and was affiliated to the Bimal Gurung camp of the Morcha, but in 2017 it was reconstituted and it decided to stay independent, while it got affiliated to the Tamang faction later.

On 2 November this year, the organisation again decided to remain independent with, however, the Kurseong unit deciding to stay on with the Tamang camp. In Kurseong, the newlyappointed chief co-ordinator of the Sangathan, Sandip Bal, said members of the UEA, Kurseong Sub-Division Committee, had decided to fight for their demand under the leadership of Mr Tamang and party general secretary Anit Thapa. He also claimed that a new committee of the new body will be formed in Darjeeling on 23 November.