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Golden Temple pathis time protest with Badals’ ‘akhand path’, get partial wage hike

Amritsar : Pathis (priests) working at the Golden Temple today protested against “low wages” in the presence of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who had organised an “akhand path”.
The pathis, supported by colleagues from Gurdwara Shahidan Sahib, Gurdwara Budha Sahib and Gurdwara Baba Bakala, refused to accept fresh “akhand path” bookings till their demands, including a wage hike and facilities on a par with regular employees of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), were accepted.
The standoff ended only after their grievance was partially addressed in the evening. The SGPC agreed to raise their shift wage from Rs 600 per session to Rs 800, against the demand for Rs 1,000. They would also be entitled to benefits under the group medical insurance scheme. The SGPC has engaged around 8,000 pathis on a temporary basis for its gurdwaras across Punjab. Of these, 800 are working at the Golden Temple, 500 at Gurdwara Shahidan Sahib and nearly 150 each at Gurdwara Budha Sahib and Gurdwara Baba Bakala. They are paid on the basis of “path” shifts. On an average, a pathi ends up getting Rs 9,000 a month. With the raise, each will get Rs 12,000 a month. Earlier, pathis Angrej Singh and Harpal Singh accused the SGPC of adopting double standards when it came to paying wages or offering medical and educational facilities to its employees.Prior to the poll, the SGPC had given them a raise of just Rs 50 per shift at Sukhbir’s insistence, they said. “It was a meagre raise. We were forced to protest after the SGPC refused to hear us. A majority of the pathis have been associated with respective gurdwaras for the past three decades, but are not treated on a par with other employees. Neither can our children study in SGPC-run schools or institutes, nor can our families get free medical aid in its hospitals. We had approached successive SGPC presidents, but to no avail,” they said.

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