The Chennai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (CMRL) workers staged a sit in protest on April 29, in the CMRL administrative office in Koyambedu against the dismissal of eight of their colleagues. The management stated that the workers had violated the code of conduct and hence, action was taken. The CMRL claimed there were no interruptions in service even though passengers had to wait for longer duration in most of the stations.
The CMRL Employees’ Union allege that these workers were dismissed after the union had written to the CMRL management against contractualisation of work in November 2018. A Soundararajan, State President of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) who is also the honorary President of the Union had signed the letter.
The dismissed employees are office bearers of the CMRL Employees’ Union affiliated to CITU.
Case Pending in Madras High Court
The union has been protesting against the move of contractualisation since December last year without affecting services. The workers were protesting on rotation basis and due to this, there was no financial loss and disruption of services.
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The union has approached the Madras High Court after the office bearers were suspended and the court has ordered for status quo. Four rounds of conciliation talks have been completed so far but the workers are still waiting for their suspension to be revoked. They also alleged that their dismissal is invalid as the matter is set for the next hearing very soon.
Untrained Workers Hired for Operation Putting Commuters at Risk
A worker on condition of anonymity said, “We have been protesting against the management’s decision to outsource work for almost a year now. We organised the protest in such a way that the services are not affected at all. But, the management continued with its decision to outsource and hence, we have issued a strike notice”.
“The contract workers are not being trained, thus, putting the safety of passengers at risk. The permanent workers are properly trained in all safety measures. We do not want to disrupt the services or create loss to the CMRL but we have been victimised for forming our union and raising questions against certain disastrous measures of the management,” he added.
The workers also alleged that trains are operated manually, compromising the safety of passengers which is a gross violation of the norms laid down for operation.
Contractors-Officials Share Revenue From Contract Work
The actual salary paid to contract workers is much lesser than the actual amount sanctioned. The amount saved illegally by the contractors are shared with certain officials of higher ranks within the CMRL, the union alleged. For certain types of work, a regular employee is paid Rs. 28,000, while the contract for the same work (for a single worker) is awarded for a sum of Rs. 68,000. Moreover, the contract workers are paid only Rs. 19,000 and the remaining amount is profit for the contractor.
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The workers stated that contractualisation is encouraged by the officials since they also get a considerable amount as bribe from the contractors. Contractualisation has come as a menace for the working class as they are being underpaid and over-worked, while all labour laws are being sent for a toss.
Workers to Launch Indefinite Protest
A Soundararajan said, “The CMRL is continuing with its anti-worker measures ever since its inception. The workers have been denied of their benefits. The allowances have been completely stopped. They are not even provided with rest room facilities in the stations. The dismissals by the management are arbitrary and we will continue our struggle till the workers are reinstated and the anti-worker policies are changed.”
He also said, “The dismissed workers were denied permission for meeting even after waiting for more than three hours to meet the managing director of CMRL, which again shows the arrogant attitude of the management towards the workers.”
“The CITU has been demanding that the state and central governments should stop outsourcing the work in the name of labour reforms. The unemployment rate is already soaring under the Modi government and for a young country like India, the policies of outsourcing and contractualisation will push the youngsters more in to uncertainty,” he added.
The employees’ union has announced that they will launch an indefinite strike from today, April 30, against the measures of the management till an amicable solution is arrived at.
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