Nearly 1000 E-sevai workers and Aadhaar enrolment workers from Tamil Nadu conducted a hunger strike in 20 district centres across the state on Friday, May 31, demanding their pending salary and better working conditions. The strike was conducted under the banner of Union of IT (Information Technology) and ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) Employees (UNITE).
The E-sevai and Aadhaar enrolment workers are employed by the TACTV (Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited), a government-run company. The centre offers a variety of services for the common people including Aadhaar enrolment. The E-sevai centres are outsourced to private contractors who hire the workers on contract basis.
The workers have been struggling over the same issues for almost five months now. The government offers the E-sevai workers a salary of Rs 7,600 per month. However, this was reduced to Rs 2,000- Rs 4,000 for the past seven months. Neither the state government nor the TACTV have given any reason for this deduction.
Also read: Tamil Nadu E-sevai and Aadhar Enrolment Workers Protest, Plan Strike if Demands Unfulfilled
The workers have also not been provided their Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) card also, though an amount for ESI was deducted from their salary. The UNITE filed two cases with the Labour Commission about these issues, however, the contractors who employ the workers have not submitted any explanation to the Commission on any of this.
A Elango, the state joint secretary of UNITE told NewsClick, "We have been conducting protests at district centres for past five months. We conducted our protests on Sundays only so far, so as not to affect the people who need our services. But the government is not answering any of our demands and pushed us to conduct a strike on Friday, which is a peak day for services. Since the schools are to reopen in a few days, more people need our services now.”
The UNITE issued a demand charter to the government and TACTV, which include:
- To give the employees their proper salaries without deduction and to reimburse the deducted amount of seven months.
- To provide the workers their ESI card.
- To fix the workers salary at Rs 18,000, the prescribed minimum wage by the central government.
- To allow funds to the E-sevai centres to buy the necessary stationery items such as papers, staple pins, printing ink, etc., for which the workers have to spend their own money now.
- To make a more gender-sensitive working atmosphere. Many centres do not even have toilet facilities or proper ventilation.
- To form a sexual harassment committee to address the issues the workers are facing.
With the majority of E-sevai and Aadhaar enrolment workers being women, the dire situation in centres and the deduction in salary is making their life insufferable.
Also read: E-Sevai Workers Protest in Chennai, Demand Fair Wage and Better Working Conditions