TN: Protests Erupt As DMK Govt Moots Outsourcing in Departments and Urban Local Bodies
The federation of rural development and local body workers held protests demanding the suspension of GO 152.
The proposal of the government of Tamil Nadu to outsource jobs in the general and municipal administrations has sparked protests among employees and youth organisations. The government orders (GO) intend to outsource jobs in group D in government services and in 20 municipal corporations across the state.
The government employees and local body workers’ unions have struck a note of caution against the proposed move, citing massive job losses, exploitation of workers, non-compliance to reservation in appointment and impact on services to the public. As a result of this decision, the number of jobs in the corporations would be reduced to around 3,500 from the actual strength of 35,000.
Another GO has permitted the town panchayats to outsource street light and water supply systems, underground sewerage and solid waste management activities.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government is accused of not only going back on its electoral promise of regularising contract and daily wage labourers who have served for ten years but also of vigorously pursuing neoliberal policies.
OUTSOURCING BY URBAN LOCAL BODIES
The GO No. 152 by the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply has proposed to outsource works including conservancy, tax collection, water supply, skilled and unskilled workers, drivers, and security workers. It has stirred up controversy. The order applies to the 20 municipal corporations in the state except the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC). The GO has sanctioned a total of only 3,417 posts in these corporations.
Another GO No. 139 of the same department has empowered the Commissioner of Town Panchayats (TPs) to grant permission to the Executive Officers of TPs to engage private players on contract. Though the contract system exists in several departments on a smaller magnitude, the present move could end up in massive outsourcing in key departments.
K R Ganesan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Rural Development and Panchayat Workers Federation, told NewsClick, “Such outsourcing moves will hugely impact the functioning of the local bodies considered crucial for extending essential services to the public”.
The number of workers in the 20 corporations will be reduced to 10% of the actual strength of 35,000. “The lower number of workers means overburdening of existing workers. The private players will look only for profit, and service will be pushed to the backseat,” he added.
The federation, which coordinates the unions for conservancy workers, pump operators, and overhead tank operators, has already held statewide protests against the GOs.
DMK’S COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL JUSTICE QUESTIONED
The ruling DMK, in its election manifesto, had promised to eradicate contract labour in all government departments. “Ad hoc and contract workers working in public sector entities and government agencies for more than ten years will be considered for permanent employment,” reads the party manifesto.
“The DMK is going back on its electoral promises. Also, the social justice that the party talks about frequently is also compromised. If the contract system is introduced, there won't be any reservation, impacting the socially oppressed sections,” Ganesan said.
The two GOs under the scanner have not mentioned any minimum wage for the daily wage workers unlike the previous instances. “The conservancy workers are assured of Rs 721 as wage through a GO in 2017, though it has not been implemented. The new GO has not given any directions on the wage of the workers as well,” Ganesan added.
Further, the federation has claimed official apathy regarding the discrepancies in the prevailing contractual system in departments including welfare, public health, water supply, electricity and local administration.
“Several contract workers have lost their lives in the underground sewerage and septic tanks owing to lack of safety measures. When massive outsourcing occurs, the exploitation would be more and more threatening for the workers,” Ganesan said.
GOVT WITHDRAWS TOR IN GO 115
The government employees were taken aback when the department of human resource development came up with GO 115, recommending the possibility to outsource group D employees to other categories and leave the arising vacancies unfilled. The terms of reference (TOR) were axed after the employees' unions protested.
S Karthick, state president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), speaking to NewsClick said, “Such moves are a massive setback to the youth aspiring for government jobs. Successive governments have already outsourced works in welfare, health, public works, water supply and drainage, electricity and local administration. The government must ensure permanent jobs considering the rising unemployment.”
The DMK has accused large-scale frauds in awarding contracts while in opposition and demanded an end to such exploitations.
Though the DMK projects the ‘dravidian model’ as the one serving different sections of the population, the recent moves have put the party under pressure.
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