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CM’s 10-hr work appeal shakes up Dispur

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, June 7:  Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal’s appeal to State government employees to work up to ten hours a day has created a piquant situation in Dispur, with some departments hurriedly issuing notifications directing the staff to follow a 10-hour working day.

Chief Minister Sonowal in a meeting at Dispur recently called upon government employees to work up to ten hours a day. However, a section of officials at the Assam Secretariat misunderstood the CM’s appeal as an order.

The State Food and Civil Supply department today issued a notification directing the staff to follow 10-hour working day, prompting Chief Secretary VK Pipersenia to ask the department to withdraw the notification immediately.

“The Chief Minister recently appealed to all ministers, officers and staff of the State government to work for at least ten hours a day. It was simply an appeal, not an order. But the Food and Civil supply department acting in haste issued a notification directing the staff to follow 10-hour working day,” Pipersenia told The Sentinel in Dispur today.

The Chief Secretary said that he has already asked the department to withdraw the notification. “We, however, have appealed to employees to work longer than the usual time if needed,” Pipersenia pointed out.

Reacting to the move, the president of Sadou Asom Karmachari Parishad (SAKP), Basab Kalita said, “The government cannot compel employees to work 10 hours day. It is a sheer violation of the Labour Act.”

“But as far as our understanding is concerned, the Chief Minster only requested the employees to work for ten hours. He never gave an order to that effect. We also appeal to employees to work extra hours if situation so demands for the development of the State,” Kalita added.

Clarifying the government’s stand, State Fince, Education and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “It is not an order. It was just an appeal by the Chief Minster in the interest of welfare of the people of the State.”

“Our Chief Minister is working more than 10 hours a day. Accordingly we are also following in his footsteps,” Sarma said.  

Meanwhile, the General Administration department in a statement clarified that the working hours at State government offices, including the Assam Secretariat, will not be changed.

According to the statement, the office working hours on all working days in State government offices are from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm for the months from March to September, while the working hours from October to February are from 10:00 am to 4:15 pm.

“The Chief Minister had appealed to the senior officers to set an example of public service by working at 10 ten hours every day on voluntary basis,” said the statement.