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By A Newsman

Kolkata, 17 February: WITH an eye on the upcoming Bengal Assembly elections, Trinamool Congress government today announced the continuation of the service of its contractual and casual employees up to the age of 60 years.

This apart, the state government has announced increasing the salaries of such employees to a fixed slab depending on their seniority and a fixed annual increment at the rate of 3 per cent. They will also be entitled to a fixed one-time retirement benefit of Rs 2 lakh each.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced the decision at a news conference at Nabanna after the state Cabinet meeting this afternoon. She said that the decisions would be effective from 01 April this year.

The number of contractual and casual state government employees could not be known immediately, but a senior officer in the personnel and administrative reforms department said the number would be a few thousands. “Almost all the departments have casual or contractual workers both at the state and district level. They are mostly placed as peons, computer operators, orderlies etc and even there are contractual teachers,” he said.

With the state government announcing the continuation of their service until 60 years, the chances of them being made permanent employees will diminish. Hence, despite being in service for age similar to permanent staff, they will not get dearness allowance, and housing, medical, and pension benefits.

Going by the Chief Minister’s announcement, contractual and casual workers who are employed for five years in service will now get a monthly pay of Rs 10,000, and those who have completed 20 years and above would get Rs 20,000 per month.

Other benefits announced for contractual and casual workers include insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh and leave benefit of 40 days per annum, up from the previous 30 days.

In a separate move, the state government has also announced a health insurance scheme named Swasthya Sathi bringing the civic police volunteers, green police volunteers, civil defence volunteers, disaster management workers, ASHA social health workers, self-help groups, national volunteers, Home Guards and ICDS workers under its ambit.

This group insurance scheme would entail medical coverage of Rs 1.5 lakh to 5 lakh, and the full premium for this would be borne by the state government, Banerjee said. Around 80-lakh workers will benefit from this.

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