CHENNAI: The e-sevai workers and Aadhaar enrolment workers from Tamil Nadu held a demonstration to put forth their demands of fair wage and better job environment on December 9, at Thoothukudi and Tiruchi.
More than 300 data entry operators from 11 districts participated in the demonstrations organised by the Union of IT (Information Technology) and ITeS (Information Technology Enabled Services) Employees (UNITE).
This is the second time the operators are organising a protest, owing to the problem with their wages in the last there weeks.
The data entry operators are paid about Rs 7,000 to 8,000 per month as salary, which is much less than the instructed minimum wage in the first place. However, they have been receiving salaries as low as Rs 3,000 to 4,000 per month since September. The management has been reportedly deducting a large portion of their salary citing “insufficient attendance”. There seems to be an issue with the system that records biometric attendance of the operators. So far, the management has not been able to explain this anomaly.
Additionally, the Contract Labour Act clearly states that any worker working for more than 480 days should be given permanent position. But, the operators, who have been working for more than three years now, are still working under the contract. This is one of the major issues raised by UNITE. The workers have also demanded that their salary be raised to Rs 18,000 – the minimum wage – along with proper infrastructural facilities in the e-sevai centres. Currently the workers have no toilet facilities, and have to spend from their pockets in order to stock office supplies.
The protesters raised slogans against the management and the government for their inaction. A protester, who spoke at the venue, targeted the government’s corruption, and said that the workers are willing to pay 30 per cent of their salary as a commission to the government to intervene in the matter. (The state government has been trolled based on the allegation that they take 30 per cent commission for every project they sanction).
“This is the second phase of our protest to demand fair wage and better job environment,” said Alagunambi Welkin, general secretary of UNITE. “Next, we are planning a state-wide demonstration to seek attention to the issues of e-sevai workers and Aadhaar enrolment workers. We will stop protesting only when we get a positive response from the Labour Department or the management,” he said.
On November 21, the workers conducted a demonstration raising this issue along with other demands at Valluvar Kottam in Chennai under UNITE. This was the first time the data entry operators in the state have been mobilised.
TACTV (Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited), a government-run company is in charge of the e-sevai centres in the state. They outsource the centres to contractors, who then recruit data entry operators for the work. This has reportedly led to an unstable work environment for the operators, majority of whom are women.