SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet on Tuesday decided to enhance the retirement age of state government employees—in service on 01.06.2014 or appointed on or after that—from the present 58 years to 60 years.
The decision was announced by National Conference and Congress ministers at two separate press conferences here, after the Cabinet acceded to the employees’ demand at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
The government employees’ unions had taken to the street a number of times over the past eight years, demanding enhancement of the retirement age, and a delegation also met the Chief Minister earlier Tuesday.
Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said the Cabinet also approved increase in the upper age limit for recruitment in government jobs from 37 to 40 years.
“Candidates belonging to reserved categories will get a further three-year relaxation in the upper age limit,” Rather said, adding that these decisions will take effect from June 1 this year.
In another decision, the Cabinet with regard to the demand of the employees’ unions for the regularization of casual/temporary/need based labourers, engaged after 31.01.1994, ordered that all the departments shall submit the requisite details to the Finance Department by the end of June, 2014 in order to enable the Cabinet Sub-Committee, headed by Finance Minister, to prepare an appropriate policy in this regard.
Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, accompanied by several Congress ministers, held a separate press conference to announce the Cabinet decisions.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met a delegation of employees’ representatives and announced his intention to enhance the retirement age.
“I will strongly advocate for the enhancement of age issue in the cabinet and make sure that it is approved to the best satisfaction of the employees,” Omar told the delegation.
“The Chief Minister this afternoon announced his intention to enhance the retirement age of employees from 58 to 60 years, and the upper age limit for youths to obtain government job from 37 to 40 years,” an official spokesman earlier said.
The Chief Minister directed Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, who was present in the meeting along with other senior officials, to take action for withdrawing all cases instituted against agitating employees under the Essential Services (Maintenance) Ordinance.
Omar constituted a committee comprising Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and Secretary of the General Administration Department to study all other demands of the employees, outside the ambit of Finance Department, for finalising and reporting with its recommendations within a month.
“I will personally monitor functioning of this committee and all other issues pertaining to the welfare of employees and talk to representatives of employees myself without any mediators.
“We will be meeting every month to sort out issues and cement the relations between the government and its employees,” Omar said.
The Chief Minister also fixed a deadline of one month for the Finance Department to finalise its recommendations on casual employees.
Omar said his government had always been employee- friendly and it took historic and hard decisions in their favour despite severe financial crisis.
“We provided you with benefits of the 6th Pay Commission, its arrears and host of other facilities to improve your conditions and are ready to sort out all pending issues with you in a friendly and amicable atmosphere,” he told the representatives.
The Chief Minister said much politics has been done on the issue of enhancing retirement age of government employees.
“Many played double role in this regard and while talking to employees they extended their support to them, and to youths they told that it would be counter-productive for the interests of unemployed youths,” he said.
The enhancement of retirement age will have no effect on recruitment of youth as the government will continue the recruitment process to fill up the vacant posts in different government departments, he said.
Omar said no wrong impression should be given to the youth in this regard and no politics needs to be done on this important welfare measure any more.
The Chief Minister made a mention of the role played by Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey in advocating and justifying the need to enhance the retirement age of government employees and extending him the highest support in this regard.
Earlier, president of the Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) Abdul Qayoom Wani and its convenor Rouf Ahmad in their speeches expressed gratitude to the Chief Minister for his keenness to ensure redressal of all grievances of the employees.
“It is the historic fact that you intervened at all junctures to approve the 6th Pay Commission recommendations in favour of government employees as also payment of the huge amount of Rs 4,200 crore as arrears to the employees.
“We also want to place it on record that your sagacity and employee-friendly approach made all problems easy to solve,” Wani said.