40 stringers in middle of Covid-19 crisis
Srinagar: Amid the Covid-19 crisis, when the possibility of new employment is bleak, the Jammu and Kashmir government has terminated the services of more than 40 employees who have been serving the information and Public Relations department for the last five years.
“After approval of competent authority, the stringers are hereby disengaged with immediate effect,” said the order which was released on May 5.
Hired in 2015 by the PDP-led BJP government, the stringers were engaged with ministers, advisors, governors for publicity and promotion of their activities in print and electronic media. The department will now be relying on meager manpower in a situation when the workload of the department has increased manifold.
The termination order has come against the spirit of a labour and employment ministry advisory to all state and UT administrations them “not to terminate employees in the face of a catastrophic situation due to outbreak of Covid-19 particularly casual or contractual workers from job or reduce their wages.”
Throwing to the winds the labour department’s advisory, the government has cited a clause in the contract it signed with the stringers to justify the termination order. The government says that it engaged them on the condition that it will not confer any right or entitle them to any regular service or future appointment against any permanent or temporary vacant posts.
“The engagement will be purely on need basis and will be discontinued by the department at any point of time without giving any notice,” the contract said.
For the disengaged employees, the order was expected, as there was talk since a while about their disengagement. However, the timing of the termination has disappointed them.
“I thought they will not do it at this time, given the crisis we are in. They have given no thought to where we would go in this situation. The employment uncertainty in Kashmir is already high. There are very few choices,” a stringer said.