Hundreds of Data Entry Operators (DEOs) working with E-sevai and Aadhar Centres across Tamil Nadu, on Sunday, gathered in the state capital, and demonstrated at the collector’s office in Chennai, reiterating their demands. DEOs from all across Tamil Nadu, for last few months, under the banner of the union Information Technology and Information Enabled Services (IT&ITES), employees have been raising their issues including illegal salary deduction and poor working conditions.
E-sevai and Aadhar centres are being run by Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd (TACTV). It runs 659 of such centres across the state, which offer various services to the public. These services are outsourced to contractors, and the contractors then recruit DEOs. Most of these DEOs are women, who get around Rs 6,000 as their monthly salary.
“For the last four months, the workers are not getting paid their prescribed wages. They get only Rs 1,000 or Rs 500 per month. Though their original salary of Rs 6,000 per month is not sufficient for the workers to manage things, now the workers are struggling even further,” said Alagunambi Welkin, general secretary of IT&ITES employees’ union.
The workers who have gathered from all the 18 districts said that though they made individual complaints as well as a complaint through unions earlier, nothing has been done in favour of the workers so far. The workers also claimed that the money for recharging the wallet of DEOs has been blocked after January 2. By not recharging the wallet of DEOs, public services are being prevented, accused the workers.
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The working condition for the workers are very poor. The E-sevai and Aadhar centres are located in some isolated corners in most of the places, and the space is very congested, complain employees. “There is no toilet facility in the centres. Since most of the workers are women, they have to go to the nearby shops or buildings. At times, they have to go a little far, and they are forced to travel, and may have to close the centres,” said Jayalakshmi, the state convenor of the union.
“The women workers face harassment from officials from other departments and public. To address these issues, there is no Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). So, we demand that ICC should be constituted,” Jayalakshmi added.
One another issue that has been raised by the workers is that the maternity leaves are not approved by the officials. When the women workers apply for maternity leaves, they are being asked to resign from work instead of getting leaves. “There are cases of forced resignations,” said Jayalakshmi. The workers have also highlighted that the ESI and PF schemes are not clear.
“We demand that the contract workers who have been working for years should get the permanent post,” Jayalakshmi further added. Though the Contract Labour Act clearly states that any worker working for more than 480 days should be given permanent position, this provision is being blatantly violated. In addition, workers are demanding a minimum wage of Rs 18,000 per month.
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The DEOs, so far, have organised protests in Chennai, Thiruchi and Thoothukudi. Following all the protests, false promises were given to the workers and now the workers are scheduled to meet the Labour Commissioner.
“We hope that the issues will get resolved after the meeting. If not, we will go for a strike in February,” said Welkin.