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Oh, for a government job!

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The government has instituted very strict labour laws. But, unable to comply with them, even as they remain the biggest employers in the country, government organisations are openly flouting the laws, as comes out clearly in each of the following cases:

1) C & D employees (for the full report, click here):
The Karnataka government banned the system of daily-wage workers in 2007. But dig a little deeper, and its own departments have over 15,000 daily-wage employees who are paid a paltry Rs 168.70 paise per day. Shockingly, many such employees in various government departments haven’t got their salaries for months now.
    
H Hanumanth Raju, 54, working as a cook in a hostel run by the social welfare department at Gauribidanur, has been waiting for his salary for seven months. He is one among the many staging a fast-untodeath from Monday at Banappa Park, near Hudson Circle.
    
The protesters include those working in the forest department, Vidhana Soudha press, municipalities, social welfare and irrigation departments as group C and D employees. All the employees were hired after August 1984.
    
“In 2009, when we staged a similar protest, minister S Suresh Kumar had promised us the issue would be settled. A cabinet sub-committee was formed to look into the issue under minister C M Udasi. The cabinet report had suggested that the government frame guidelines for regularization of daily wage employees,” said Chandrashekar S Hiremath, a labour leader from Gulbarga, who has been fighting for the cause for the past six years.
 

Forest guards:
“I know the forest I guard near Shikaripur is now facing threat from various land sharks, because many like me have not attended work today. We work 24 hours a day, guarding the forest from fires and encroachment. But the salary I get is a pittance. It’s high time the government recognizes our work and regularizes our jobs,” said Bhima Naika, who has been forest guard for 22 years.
    
In Bangalore alone, there are 1,000 daily-wage employees in the forest department alone. “The protest will continue until the cabinet regularizes the employment of all the 15,000 employees,” Hiremath said.


2) Pourakarmikas (for the full report, click here):
Around 18,000 pourakarmikas work for BBMP, of whom only 4,000 are under employee category. The remaining workers have been hired on contract basis for the past few years.

3) Bus crew/ staff (for the full report, click here):
Members of the Akhila Karnataka Rajya Raste Sarige Nowkarara Mahamandala stated that all the four state transport corporations were employing nearly 33,000 employees as trainees on a stipend between Rs 2,000-Rs 5,000 per month. “This is close to 1/3rd of the total workforce. They are made to do regular work, are fined like regular employees and after a training period of 2 years have to undergo probation for 2 more years,” said K S Sharma, president of the federation. He pointed out that the total salary received by the lowest rank in the corporations was 9,000 per month for a class ‘D’ attender.

And, while there is no authority that can question any of them, the organised private sector does not enjoy such privileges, leading to the country failing totally in labour-intensive industries, even as it is doing dramatically well in brain-intensive areas, from software and high-end outsourcing to pharmaceuticals and automobiles, with many multinationals building R&D centres to harness Indian brainpower. The bigger irony here is that, even as the country is hard put to cope up with the huge demand for brain-intensive manpower, its huge un/ semi - skilled manpower, which could otherwise have been put to good use for the benefit of all concerned, is unable to be utilised because of the strict laws. But, all the same, the government continues to keep its head buried under the sand, ostrich-like, just refusing to make the necessary amendments to the labour laws.

A few days back, I saw a documentary titled "Rat Race" on NRK's (Night Rat Killers) of Mumbai. In 1994, when plague broke out in parts of the city (the city of Surat was worst affected), the Municipality chose to engage unemployed young men, as NRK's, to exterminate rats, they being the carriers of the plague virus. They were paid a monthly wage in the range of Rs 6,000/-, for killing a minimum of 30 rats per night, whose carcasses they had to hand in at a collection centre. Now, one would wonder why any youth would want to take up such a job (which all them were uniformly hesitant to talk about), considering the fact that getting a job, for like or higher wage, in a economic bee-hive like Mumbai, is not at all difficult. The answer to that paradox becomes fairly clear when each of the NRK's talks about his aspirations of getting a confirmed job in the Municipality (government job). And, since the route to this, if at all there was one, was plain patronage and never merit, the NRK's were prepared to do anything to please their supervisor, in the hope that he would make 'suitable' recommendations. The supervisor used this mind-set of the NRK's to lead them on, even as he very well knew that the chance of any of them getting confirmed was next to nil.

And, this is exactly the kind of mind-set that even an otherwise honest minister, like Mr Suresh Kumar, is willy-nilly exploiting.

So, what's so great about a government job? The answer is very simple - once you get confirmed, there is no force on earth that can make you work, if you don't want to, nor throw you out from employment (given the stringent labour laws, it's difficult even for the private sector; but, you can expect them to find their way out when things go beyond their tolerance limit). Besides, you then become part of the privileged 'labour aristocracy', providing you an opportunity of getting enrolled at some level into the various mafia operations, that all government organisations are invariably steeped in, therewith making huge non-taxable incomes on the side. There are of course the odd sincere people who refuse to succumb to these temptations, but, somewhere along they become victims of the demotivating environment, and just bide their time, looking for salvation in some other pursuits.

The reason why senior Air-India pilots, who can perhaps walk into any of the private airlines given their experience, would instead choose to arm-twist their management into accepting the demands, whether rational or not, is also because of this. From past experience, they know fully well that the government will eventually throw in the towel, for all the initial posturings by the likes of an Ajit Singh. On the other hand, the muted protests of the Kingfisher pilots, whenever it happens, hardly lasts a few hours.

Such a scenario has led to the breeding of a culture of its own, over the past 50 odd years of the public sector dominance of the commanding heights of the country's economy, symbolised by abysmal levels of productivity and quality, from which the country has been hard put to unshackle itself.

All in all, the answer very plainly seems to be for the government to get out of manufacturing and providing of services, and concentrate instead on the bigger job of facilitating, regulating, and, where essential, controlling, since, when it becomes a player in addition, it causes to distort the entire game. Simultaneously, the government needs to revamp the labour laws, and down-size itself too, outsourcing all non-core functions (check this). Once these happen, the job market will open up, productivity and quality will improve by leaps and bounds, and the country will become an economic power house no other country can match.

Muralidhar Rao

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murali772's picture

Ostrich outlook

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Even as I posted this blog, comes the news that the government is proposing to pump in Rs 4,000 cr into the long ailing Indian Telephone Industries Ltd, as if the Rs 30,000 cr pumped into Air_india was not bad enough.

Excerpts of the New Indian Express report are as below (full report may be accessed here):

Decades after the iconic Indian Telecom Industries (ITI) was written off due to lagging profit and declining manufacturing abilities,  the PSU is likely to be revived as the government is all set to pump in over Rs 4,000 crore into the ‘sick’ company.

- - - The government has been toying with the idea of roping in ITI for the Akash II as well. With nearly 1,800 acres of space in all their 6 units across the country, Dhingra said that they are ready to use machinery and infrastructure for any project the government proposed.

- - - “We will be taking part in government programmes such as broadband connectivity to rural areas as we have expertise in laying Optical Fiber Cables, and have also taken part in the tender process for a bio-metric project in Kenya,” he said. The company in the final quarter of the previous fiscal has reported a turnover of Rs 437 crore and their losses have come down to Rs 82 crore from Rs 144 crore in the third quarter.


The government should simply be monetising the 1,800 acres, or better still, be converting them into tree parks, a large part of them being in the heart of Bangalore city.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

so, there you are!

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Aviation minister Ajit Singh sounded a conciliatory note by saying: “There’s no bar on taking back anyone. Being a PSU, some procedures have to be followed and every sacking will be reviewed on a case to case basis. There is no logic to this strike and it must be ended at once.”

For the full text in the ToI, click here

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

the inevitable disasters

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On Tuesday, the railway ministers and top brass insisted it (Hampi express tragedy) was a human error, saying the train drivers failed to see the signal. But the All-India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) fears that while they would be charged with ignoring the signal, systemic failure of signals would be conveniently ignored.
    
“The railways have never heeded the loco pilots’ working conditions. Railway rules say they have to work six continuous nights in a week; but in practice, they are in a month given 30 hours’ rest four times and 22 hours’ rest five times. This is inadequate,” says L Mony, AILRSA president. Till 2009, loco pilots drove up to Dharmavaram from Guntakal while going towards Bangalore, he said, but now they drive from Dharmavaram to Bangalore — a factor which could be causing fatigue resulting in such disasters.


For the full report in the ToI, click here

The inevitable disasters, and the convenient alibi's - same story repeatedly; absolutely no accountability.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

relevant comment

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All talk of introducing modern technology to enhance safety in the railways seems farcical given the fact that even something as basic as ensuring adequate rest for the men behind the machines is so callously neglected. Considering that the lives of lakhs of passengers who travel by the railways every day is in the hands of these loco drivers, their remaining alert at all times is crucial. That can hardly be expected if they are fatigued and sleep deprived. Safety apart, there is the issue of the right of the loco drivers to decent working conditions. Surely the government that lays down labour norms for all should at the very least ensure that its own entities provide decent working conditions. Clearly, the vacancies need to be filled, the sooner the better.

For the full report in the ToI, click here

Is there anybody to question? The parliamentarians who should be doing it are instead busy with non-issues, like cartoons in school text-books (check this)

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

the done thing

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Employees also complained of having to pay bribes for everything, including getting leaves sanctioned. “Firstly, they keep us for years on end as trainees with a paltry stipend of Rs 6,000 a month and then they deduct bribe from that money too or threaten to suspend or transfer us,” said an employee.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here

We all know it, right?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

why only them?

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The State Cabinet which met here on Thursday has decided to regularise the services of more than 14,000 daily wage employees in various state government departments by introducing a legislation. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri told reporters that the Cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar approved the recommendations made by a Cabinet Sub-committee. About 23,000 daily wage employees are working in various state government departments and state-owned public enterprises. “The services of those on the payroll till April 2006 will be considered for regularisation in the first phase,” he said.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here

Now, wait a minute - why is it that only the daily wage employees in various state government departments are being regularised? Do they belong to some privileged class? What about the 15,000 daily-wage employees of the Forst Dept; 14,000 poura-karmika's; 33,000 BMTC/ KSRTC employees continuing as trainees for years together, all listed in the opening post (above)? And, there sure are plenty more where they come from. Perhaps a PIL needs to be filed against this inequity.

The question that arises then is can the government, whose salary bill is already a sizable proprtion of its revenue earnings, afford to be employing so many people? The answer being a clear 'no', shouldn't the government then be down-sizing instead in order not to eventually eradicate its privileged "labour aristocracy" class, who are largely plain parasites on the economy?

The government owes a responsibility not to just its employees; but, to every employee across the country. And, for that it needs to update its labour laws (more on that may be accessed here). Besides, the government has an equally big responsibility towards the tax payer, and it can't be arbitrarily burdening him without limits.

Perhaps, it's time the Civil Society spoke up on these matters.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Now, it's the nurses

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The government on Monday terminated the contract of 409 nurses attached to the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) Stipendiary Nurses' Welfare Association. - - - "We called off the strike on January 29 after BMCRI officers said our demands will be met. All these days we were kept in the dark, waiting for the minister to sign the order. Now, they have left us in the lurch. We are from poor families and many of us are sole breadwinners. We have worked on contract for 5-6 years. Where do we go now," asked Asha R, a member of the association.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

The nurses have been working for 5-6 years on contract, at measly wages, all in the hope that they will one day become government employees, and thereafter they can relax, and perhaps even join the mafia in each of these places. Besides, since confirmed staff hardly do any work, the hospitals are almost totally dependent on the contract staff even to keep the show going, if nothing else. As such, if the present set of contract staff are confirmed, then the hospital will have to hire a fresh set to continue the show. It is thus a vicious cycle.

Also, this is the quite the pattern right across all government organisations. Besides, if the government regularises the services of a set in one sector, similar sets in other sectors are just waiting in the wings to raise their demands. And, if the government starts conceding to all of them, you will have to have huge budget allocations, but for very little work done, all at the cost of the aam tax payer.

As it is, going by today's ToI report (click here for the full report), "In the current financial year, it has budgeted to spend over Rs 1.15 lakh crore in salaries, allowances and travel bill to 34.1 lakh employees. - - Ten years ago, the government roughly had the same number of employees (32.2 lakh) and spent Rs 31,000 crore in paying their salaries, allowances and travel bill. While the government has maintained a freeze on fresh hiring for the past several years, it has increasingly depended on contract workers for odd jobs, which has also added to expenditure. - - In 2000-01, the government set up an expenditure reforms commission which delivered 10 reports recommending sweeping changes to cut down flab. But 13 years on, the reports are virtually forgotten with negligible progress on the recommendations. While experts say it is difficult to put a figure on the savings from downsizing, they say it is necessary to raise efficiency and effectiveness in delivering public services".

The government owes a responsibility for payment of fair wages to all employees, whether directly employed, or on contract, or in the private sector. It should not have to employ all of them directly for the purpose. It can be very easily achieved, through the private sector, if the labour laws are made a bit more flexible to make sure that an employee realises that he needs to put in an honest day's work to earn his wages (check this). The answer as such very simply lies in down-sizing the government drastically (check this) by outsourcing/ privatising all non-core activities. This will lead to a work culture, where acquiring greater skills will lead to earning higher rewards, making for a prosperous nation, all in all.

There are of course the social responsibilities for the under-privileged, disabled and such types, which is where the government's direct intervention may be called for, perhaps in collaboration with NGO's. 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Computer operators' turn

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810 computer operators of BBMP struck work from Monday in protest as they haven't received their monthly salaries for the past six months - - - While the BBMP claims their salaries has been credited to Keonics, their primary employer, Keonics claims BBMP hasn't made the payment. Consequently, most BBMP works came to a halt. - - - According to BBMP, the non-payment of bills is due to the lack of bills raised by Keonics to which the work has been outsourced.

According to Keonics - "Only for the month of April 2013, have we not raised the bills, as the attendance register for the month is yet to be sent to us. It's a nuisance and embarrassment for both operators and Keonics" a senior officer. - - - "BBMP is left with only Rs 100 crore in its coffers," said BBMP opposition party leader MK Gunashekar.


For the full report in the ToI, click here.

The idea of outsourcing the job very obviously is so that BBMP does not have to have confirm these employees. And, fair enough, that's how it needs to be in the case of non and semi-skilled employees, though that's not quite legal as per the current, though archaic, labour laws. But, Keonics, being a GoK outfit, can it get away not confirming these workers, even after they have put in years and years of service? Apparently, so - well, if BMTC and many others can, why can't Keonics? And again, why not BBMP do it directly, then? Perhaps, the idea is to spread them across various sub-contractors - poura-karmika's under one, computer operators under another, security staff under another, etc, so that they don't act in unison, and hold up the entire operations. So, what is happening essentially is that each and every government organisation is merrily circumventing the law, through dubious means, because it just cannot afford to comply with it.

The question that arises then very simply is why can't the government amend the law? The answer to that very simply again is that it will be 'politically incorrect' to do so. So, you have these kinds charades going on for ever.

The ToI report also mentioned - Nirmal Sebastian, 27, who works with an MNC, joined the protest of the data operators to express his solidarity. "It's ridiculous. Even in IT companies we face several issues, but we don't raise our voice and instead join another company. The data entry operators of BBMP are far better as they're able to raise their voice against injustice. I support them," said Sebastian.

For all that Mr Sebastian says, his lot are generally far better off than the BBMP contract workers, because their salary levels and working conditions will be far better. Besides, they will get regular opportunities to upgrade their skills, and thereby enhance their marketability, so that, even if they face a problem with the current employer (or, if the current employer faces a problem on account of some new market developments, which happens quite often in today's world), they can always switch to another, and at better salary levels. As compared to that, the BBMP computer operator types remain stuck, doing the same thing year after year, all for a pittance, under the false notion that they will be confirmed as "government employees" one day. It is the same story as of the Mumbai's "Night Rat Killers", discussed in my opening post.

The only way out of this conundrum is for everyone (except at the highest levels) to be employed by the private sector, quite like Mr Sebastian, the salaries being governed largely by performance. And, if anyone misbehaves, he could even get the sack - like even a Mr Phanish Murthy. The fact of the matter is that "i-gate" is paying a high price for sacking Mr Murthy, and would certainly have liked to retain him. But, when things go beyond all limits, they have no option. As such, all that the likes of Mr Sebastian need to do is to make themselves valuable to their organisations, and as long as they don't land up doing Phanish Murthy kinds of acts, they can lead a generally stable and happy life, besides contributing to the growth of the economy, in general. As compared to that, today's government employees are largely a burden on the economy, besides being a totally frustrated lot.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

some gumption

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A woman officer with the passport office in Bangalore went to Saudi Arabia on a year’s leave in 1998. Fourteen years later, she returned and  demanded salary for all the years she was absent, as well as other arrears and benefits. The CAT turned down her request. She  then approached the Karnataka High Court which dismissed her petition as “the worst form of misconduct”.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Their interpretation of "rights" (check the discussions here) has reached the shameless extent of taking the matter even to the courts. Thankfully, the High Court put an end to it, fairly unequivocally too.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

height of recalcitrance

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The Maharaja of Air India and his hassled passengers are used to cabin crew tantrums. But this one takes the cake.

An Air India airhostess on Thursday refused to fly on the Delhi-Sydney flight as per her duty schedule and told the airline she was well enough only to zip off to some place nearby like Dubai. The doctor, though, found her fit and a livid airline management suspended her.
 
The airline is perplexed as the airhostess came from Mumbai to operate the Delhi-Sydney flight but chose not to go on it at the last minute. Friday is Valentine's Day and the airline does not know why she was so keen on going to Dubai instead of Australia, where she was rostered to fly to.

Two of her colleagues also refused to operate the same flight (AI 302) and one more was nowhere to be seen at the airport. As a result, the flight with almost 200 passengers was delayed by over two hours. Ironically, for once the Dreamliner that was to operate on this route did not have snags and it was crew shortage that caused the delay as it could take off only after AI managed to get alternate airhostesses.


For the full report in the ToI, click here.

For such blatant and open recalcitrance, all that has happened so far is mere suspension of the hostesses. Within a few weeks, they will be back in (dis)service, using union clout. As compared to that, a private airline would have sacked them summarily, and no union would have dared interfere in such a matter.

Here's clearly another example (if the many already listed are not enough) of why the government needs to get out of service industry; and not just service industry, but even manufacturing.

Government's job is governance, and facilitation, regulation and control where essential, of provisioning of services and manufacturing.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

no way for service organisations to function

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The busy Platform Road was abuzz with activity on Thursday morning. Commuters were wondering what the fuss was all about till they realized it was no film shoot that choked the one-way stretch. A traffic constable and a KSRTC bus driver were locked in a duel, and a real one at that.

The scuffle broke out after the cop objected to the driver entering the one-way road. Alleging that their colleague was attacked for no mistake of his, 10 KSRTC drivers staged a protest by stopping their vehicles in the middle of the road. This brought traffic to a standstill in Majestic, Okalipuram, Goodshed Road, Ananda Rao Circle and KG Road.

 - - - It all begun when KSRTC driver Prasanna Kumar allegedly entered the one-way road around 10.30am. To ease traffic, police have restricted KSRTC buses from entering Platform Road during peak hours. "Despite repeated requests, Kumar, who had come from Arakalgud in Hassan, entered the one-way street. When I opposed, he abused me," traffic constable Hussain Basha said.


For the full report in the ToI, click here

Here is another clear instance where the driver should have been summarily sacked for challenging the traffic police's instructions. Instead, the policeman will now have to defend the assault case, filed against him, using KSRTC union clout. And, the union clout essentially devolves out of KSRTC's government ownership. How can a service organisation function this way? And, how can police function this way?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

how can you prevent political interference?

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In the first action of its kind, Air India sacked about 10 air hostesses last week for reporting late for work, delaying flights. AI decided to crack the whip after witnessing an unusual rise in instances of cabin crew sauntering in when they want, keeping passengers waiting for hours. More crew members could lose their jobs in the coming days, warned a senior official. - - - - On February 20, AI issued a general notice warning crew that if they do not reach airports in time to operate flights on time, the airline will take penal action, including terminating their services. "Many of the AI employees flaunt their political connections and rarely obey orders to work properly. This time also, they ignored the notice," said a source.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

Invariably, the political connections will ensure that they are all back (and, to their wayward ways) soon as the heat dies down. An RTI query, some three months down the line, should establish that.

Likewise, another ToI report (full text accessible here) reads as below:

The BMTC on Monday sacked the driver accused of pushing a 23-year-old girl student out of a moving bus in the early hours of Friday. AV Siddartha was allegedly drunk at the time of the incident.

Another report, again in ToI (full text here), on the same reads as below:

The first mistake was letting AV Siddartha, who is facing a department inquiry for an assault charge, drive a bus with women passengers at night.

Obviously, he too had used his political/ union connections to continue in service even as the inquiry was on. And, after the heat dies down, I expect he too will be back at the BMTC wheels, and very much upto to his bad old ways.

And, if anyone thought you could prevent political interference, I'll say please perish the thought straightaway.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

how will any work ever get done?

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The state government seems to be ignoring its own orders on the suspension of officials accused of corruption. In the last four months, 10 officials were arrested for allegedly accepting bribes, but none of them has been suspended.

For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

So, forget sacking, government servants are immune from suspension even. Will any work ever get done this way?

If any right has to be bestowed on any one, the very first has to be the "right to sack" (check this) on the employer (including the government).

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

slaves and slave drivers

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BMTC driver Krishna is not the only frustrated driver among the over 20,000 employees on probation. John D'Souza, member of the United Employees Union (UEU) of BMTC and KSRTC told TOI some drivers have been on probation for 12 years.

But BMTC MD Anjum Parvez said there were 3000 probationers in BMTC. The probation period was brought down from four years to two years by unions during the tripartite agreement with the government after the massive strike in September 2012.

"The management keeps exploiting probationary drivers who're made to work full-time and paid a meagre Rs 7,000 as stipend. Most often, an employee gets less than this due to deductions of fines levied against him. It's wrong to make mistakes but then they're not intentional. As a penalty, the management would extend the probation period by 6 months to 12 months," D'Souza claimed. - - - Often, the probationary crew is deployed for extra trips during festivals and elections. The stipend is too small to make ends meet," D'Souza said.


For the full report in the ToI, click here.

At a workshop held recently, when I raised the issue of government using archaic policies like the Contract Carriage Act (check this), etc to thwart competition from private players, a senior BMTC official intervened to say that the private players never observe labour laws and engage only contract workers. That the government operators equally guilty of the charge is seen here (as also at sl no 3 in the opening post). As such, that can't be an excuse for retaining government monopoly in this sector. Effective and healthy competition from private players is the need of the hour in this key infrastructure sector, where the demand is huge and the government operators are by themselves not equipped to meet it. For more on that, click here.

And as for welfare of the workers, it is best served by Labour law reforms as suggested here. Today, the situation is that you are made to work like a slave before confirmation, and once confirmed, you join the union mafia and become a slave driver.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Hot Poura-karmika job

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Sumana, a 38-year-old BA graduate, was one among the thousands who came to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) office on Thursday to collect an application for the post of a pourakarmika.

It is not because of dearth of jobs in the private sector that Sumana hopes to become a pourakarmika. It is for the job security that comes with the profession.

“Private companies hire people on contract. The chance of losing one’s job is high. I wanted a government job and, if it means sweeping roads and collecting waste from houses, I don’t mind it,” she said. If everything goes well, she hopes to eventually get a promotion and become an officer.

After almost two decades, BBMP issued a notification for recruitment of 4,000 pourakarmikas earlier this year. Raju, another applicant, is 27 years old and works at a private bank. “At the bank, I work as a coordinator on contract basis. My salary is just `6,500 a month. A pourakarmika’s job is after all a government job and a secure one. My life will be settled,” he told Express.


For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Well, if there are post graduates ready to take up the job of a "Night Rat Killer" (see my opening post), why should it be surprising that there are the likes coveting the 'poura-karmika' job? The whole rationale too is explained in the opening post.

Government and PSU jobs, in essence, just screw up the work culture of the country - the lesser the number, the better for the country. In this regard, NaMo's slogan "less government, more governance" is undoubtedly the right approach.

As such, rather than employing poura-karmika's directly, the Karnataka government would do well to enforce strict compliance, by the contractors, with the terms & conditions of engagement of labour. In fact, these terms may even be made more liberal, and made applicable for not just poura-karmika work, but to almost all low skill work.

Like I have stated before too, the government has a responsibility not just to a handful of its "labour aristocracy", but to the entire working population, and it's best achieved through removing all artificialities that government jobs create.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

government's game of bluff

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Across wards, PKs were at first afraid to tell us anything because they thought we will share the information with the BBMP and that will affect their chances of being made permanent. They were all contract workers and most have been around for 10-20 years, hoping that some day they will be made permanent. It took quite a lot of reassuring and convincing them that the information will be kept confidential and it is only to take care of their health. 
 
For the full text of the report, click here
 
Yet another lot trapped in the same mind-set as Mumbai's "Night Rat Killers", apart from the many others (check the opening post), and wasting away their lives.
 
The government actually cannot afford to confirm any more, since it's already burdened with a huge and unsustainable salary bill (check this). But, all the same, it perpetuates the bluff, to get its work done, since the confirmed lot never work, secure as they are in the knowledge that nothing can ever touch them. This has its impact across the labour market in the country, leading to the kind of work culture we have, and the dismal productivity levels thereof. 
 
The government would be doing a great favour to the youth of the country (and, thereby the economy as a whole) if it outsources all jobs at low to medium skill levels to organisations like "TeamLease", where you are assured of all statutory obligations, but not much beyond that. If you are happy with that, so be it. If you want to aspire for more in life, acquire the requisite skills, and the ever-growing skilled job market will grab you, paying you what you want. 
 
Alternatively, the government could empower itself with the "right to sack" any employee against payment of compensation package as per contract terms, without questions asked.
 
These steps will provide for a far more equitable and egalitarian labour regime, as compared to the present one, which provides for further fattening of the already fat "labour aristocracy", who form a miniscule percentage of the total work (the word actually doesn't apply to them) force.
 
And, that's the only way "make in India" can happen. 
 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

May be time for "kelasa bhagya" now, CM sahibare?

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Contract workers working for state-run electricity supply companies on Tuesday urged that they be made permanent employees as they had been selected according to the service rules and have been working on contract since 2003. - - - “From 2003, one of us has been assigned to each panchayat and has been working on meager salaries in the hope of becoming permanent employees. We were selected in compliance with the recruitment rules at the time and have worked for so long,” he said. In many cases, the monthly salary paid to the contract workers is not sufficient to cover the cost of work, he said, adding “We are having to spend out of our pockets to continue working.”  - - - Pankaj Kumar Pandey, managing director of BESCOM and chairperson of this committee, said the workers had been hired to handle billing and collection for the group of feeders located in each panchayat. “Officially, these workers are on contracts which are renewed every  year. They are called micro feeder consultants. We (the committee) had a few sittings and have asked for opinions from various departments. Once this is done, we will submit the report,” he said.
 
For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here
 
If I understand correctly, their ESCOM work is only part time, and they are free to take up any other work during the rest of their time. As such, I doubt if they have a case for being made permanent. Apart from all of that is the fact that the ESCOMS (as also most government agencies) are perennially broke, with the government itself denying them their dues for months (actually, years) together - check this. However, it is largely true that, while recruiting, the job seekers are generally misled into believing that they could be made permanent one day, quite like even the "Night Rat Killers" (NRK) of Mumbai, cited in my opening post - why else would anybody take up the job of a NRK, right?. What is happening, in the process, is that the youth tend to waste away the most productive years of their lives, sharpening rat killing skills, in the hope of joining the "labour aristocracy" (read my opening post to understand the term), rather than striving to acquire higher levels of skills that could get them better paying jobs, while simultaneously contributing to the overall increase in the GDP (gross domestic product) of the country. This is not just a dis-service, but a serious crime, that the government is committing on the youth of the country.
 
Last week, over a ride, I got to talking to a 43 yr old MERU taxi driver. He appeared quite satisfied with the income he was earning, though he said it was a lot of hard work. When I asked him if he would have preferred to be working for BMTC/ KSRTC, he said the "safety" factor (meaning, job permanency) was an attraction there. When I asked him if he was aware of the kind of racketeering that goes on in the government organisations, he admitted to knowing a lot about it, and then turned philosophical, and went on to add that, as long as one is prepared to work diligently in today's world, one can earn enough to carry on a fairly comfortable living.
 
That's the kind of outlook that the government needs to foster, which can happen only when it stops misleading the youth of the country, apart from reducing its present size drastically, by outsourcing a large part of its work, except at the senior-most levels. 
 
Without that, artificialities of the kind practiced, even in courts, as evident from a reading of the following excerpts from a New Indian Express article (for the full text, click here) show, will continue to persist : 
 
a division bench of Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri pulled up the state government  for paying meager wages to unskilled labourers working on temporary basis in the Dharwad and Gulbarga circuit benches. - -  Sixty-four unskilled labourers work in the two benches. The government pays Rs 3,500 a month to unskilled temporary labourers as against Rs 6,500 to unskilled labourers working on a permanent basis. The petition accused the government of discrimination though the workload on all these labourers is the same.
 
None too different from what's happening in ESCOMs, BBMP, Forest dept, BMTC/ KSRTC, in fact, everywhere, right? Can the government afford to absorb all of them, and later have them join the unproductive labour aristocracy? Will the realities ever dawn on us all? 
 
Going by the present government's thinking (check here), however, it looks like they'll opt for a fresh round of "kelasa bhagya" and make all of them permanent, I guess. 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Demographic atrophy

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Dalit candidates scoring as high as 90 per cent in their PU exams are still not able to bag village accountant posts. - - - -Periyapatna tahsildar B F Talwar attributed the stiff competition in lower rung jobs to the transparent recruitment process. “It is also because a post dealing with revenue is considered powerful,” he said. - - - - Deputy Commissioner C Shikha said the government had received 69,000 applications from across the state for 130 posts. Even engineering, MBA and science graduates are vying for village accountant posts. If selected, they get a monthly salary of about Rs 16,000.
 
For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.
 
By "powerful", the tahsildar obviously means that the post gives you ample opportunity to make "kimbala", which can be far more than the regular salary. Not just revenue, over the years, the powerful government employee mafioso, have quite perfected the "technology" of making each and every department cash cows for themselves, making them the object of envy of the aam admi, and unfortunately even respect, so much so every youth in the country aspires to join them. And, our governments' overall Socialistic outlook, where it believes in doing everything by itself because of the supposed distrust of the private sector, is feeding more and more into this demographic atrophy.
 
Economic reform in China started with retrenching millions from government jobs, forcing them to go for self-employment. Result? In ‘How China Became Capitalist’ [2013] Nobel Laureate Ronald Coarse and Ning Wang wrote:“By the early 1980s, self-employed barbers and street vendors in China earned more than surgeons and nuclear scientists” and the number of self-employed household businesses increased from 1,40,000 in 1978 to 2.6 million in 1981.” 
 
The above are the extracts from a recent article by noted columnist, S Gurumurthy, in the New Indian Express (the full text may be accessed by clicking here).
 
Is there a lesson for us there? 
 
Muralidhar Rao
Promod Kapur's picture

DEMOGRAPHIC ATROPHY

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That is why need a drastic change of policies aimed at skill development and our approach to "make in India". Make in India must not be debated on the basis of political conveniences or political party interests. It calls for a massive thrust and this can happen only when we encourage all attendant reforms, including Land Reforms, Fiscal reforms, tax reforms etc.. Ever wonder why a medical specialist should want to become a bureaucrat, or a Chartered Accountant or a lawyer wanting to become part of government bureacracy? We ought to have skill developped individuals to serve in the area where their expertise lies.

But when we make a change in policy, we must also have the patience and determination to see it through. If Rome was not built in a day, one can hardly expect a whole big, diverse country like India to be changed overnight. Am afraid, not even with the best of intentions can Aam Aadmi do this overnight by himself. The government and Aam Aadmi need to stand toghether in this effort.

murali772's picture

why peon, even 'NRK' will do, as long as it's a govt job

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If things go the way it is, then one might be able to discuss technology, history, philosophy and psychology with people fetching tea, drinking water and files in the Uttar Pradesh Secretariat.

Over 23 lakh candidates, including 2.22 lakh engineers and 255 Ph.D. holders have applied for 368 posts of peon in the State Secretariat. Thousands of candidates with Masters degree in Commerce, Humanities and Sciences are also among the applicants, something which indicates the gravity of the unemployment situation in the State.

- - - The population of Uttar Pradesh is 21.5 crore. Going by the logic of numbers, every 93rd person in the State applied for the post which carries with it a salary of Rs.20,000, along with the perks of a government job.

Interestingly, the eligibility criteria for the job are a pass in the fifth standard and the ability to ride a bicycle.


For the full text of the report in The Hindu (the emphasis added in the excerpts reproduced above, is by me), click here.

While it clearly points to the hollowness of development claims of the SP government, what it shows besides is the desperation to get a "government job", even if it's the post of a low-lie "peon". But, hardly is it any surprise, given that there is as much demand for the post of even a "night rat killer (NRK)"- check my opening post, scrolling above. The reason, as I have already stated is that

"once confirmed, there is no force on earth that can make you work, if you don't want to, nor throw you out from employment (given the stringent labour laws, it's difficult even for the private sector; but, you can expect them to find their way out when things go beyond their tolerance limit). Besides, you then become part of the privileged 'labour aristocracy', providing you an opportunity of getting enrolled at some level into the various mafia operations, that all government organisations are invariably steeped in, therewith making huge non-taxable incomes on the side."

Besides, employment generation needs to happen through development, and not through direct recruitment by the government. By adding more and more numbers to the already existing massive babudom, you are only helping perpetuate an unproductive work culture, which then comes in the way of actual development.

More and more, the Akhilesh Yadav government is apprearing far worse than any of his predecessors', about whom themselves, there wasn't much to write home about.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

government jobs - biggest impediment to economic growth

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Mohit R is an MBA in corporate finance from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. He began his corporate career in Siemens, moved to HSBC and his last stint was with Ernst & Young in their project management team in Bengaluru. In April, he quit E&Y to become a driver on taxi-hailing app Uber's platform.

- - - The Bengalurean got behind the wheel after long hours at his earlier job took a toll on his health. “Sometimes I would clock 65-75 hours a week at work, and ended up having high cholesterol,“ he says. Many of us crib about the city traffic snarls, but Mohit enjoys driving. And he doesn't consider his decision a social embarrassment.“My mom was fully supportive of my decision. I'm earning close to Rs 80,000 a month, more than I was in my last corporate job. I see this as a short-term opportunity. I may do my own startup one day,“ he says.

A number of handsomely paid executives have ditched their corporate jobs and are on taxi-hailing platforms.Some do it part time. Some for the love of driving. And some because the money is really good -many earn Rs 90,000 or more in a month.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.

For earning in the range of 80 to 90 K a month, working for Uber/ Ola too, one has to put in hard work. As such, I expect, not many will want to take this option. And, even the ones that do, are not likely to last in such jobs for long.

Now, in total contrast is this scenario, outlined in the following excerpts from a New Indian Express report (full text accessible here):

Government jobs are a big draw not just in Uttar Pradesh, but also in Karnataka, which is known for its IT firms and multinational companies.

Nearly 14 lakh people have applied for just 3,800 posts of first division assistant (FDA) and second division assistant (SDA) in various government departments. The Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) had called for applications in July for these posts. The selection will be made through a written test, to be held in the first week of October. - - - Recruitment agencies feel job security and facilities that come with government jobs are the main attraction for youngsters, especially from rural areas.

The demand is so huge, even with the salary being about one-third, and qualifications required being about the same.

So, what is the big attraction? The answer very simply, apart from the stated "job security and facilities that come with government jobs", is the unstated opportunity available to make under-the-table (non-taxable) money, far more than any IT executive or a cab driver can ever hope to make. Aren't we reading about these (wealth disproportionate to known sources of income) cases day in day out in the papers, but, which never seem pursued to conviction, and consequently have little deterring effect?

It wouldn't be a surprise if many of the current IT employees and cab drivers too will be amongst the 14 lakh applicants.

Government jobs, as institutionalised today, essentially tend to perpetuate a decadent work culture, totally detrimental to the country's economy. The going is already unsustainable, and unless the governments slash their size to the barest minimum (as suggested here), and fast enough, total collapse is staring us all in the face.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

'upar ki kamayee', + job security recipe for low productivity

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Which bank would you prefer to join — the obscure Bharatiya Mahila Bank or one of the leading private sector lenders such as ICICI Bank or HDFC Bank? If you think the answer is obvious, you are in for a surprise.

Hundreds of young aspirants recently conveyed to the government that they would prefer a job with the public sector Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) — a relatively new bank that is likely to be merged with one of the older public sector banks soon — than look for a private sector job even if the immediate fate of BMB was uncertain. What is it about public sector bank job that they would miss in the private sector, some were asked? The answers shocked the officials of the union finance ministry.

"There is 'upar ki kamayee' (bribe) too," one of the 300 candidates selected by BMB said with aplomb in front of a stunned gathering comprising minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha.


Sinha has held a few rounds of meetings with BMB candidates after the bank opted to go slow on issuing appointment letters as the fate of the bank was not clear. After being trolled on social media, he met another set of candidates, who had been selected to join IDBI Bank, where the government is looking to reduce its stake below 50%. These candidates were angry because they thought they had applied for a "secure" public sector job that could turn into a private sector job. Some candidates said a public sector job gave them the freedom to have social life since work finishes "on time", unlike the private sector banks where work routinely goes on "until 9 pm." Most candidates thought public sector job was secure and required less work. One aspirant pitched in by saying only public sector job will allow him to work for financial inclusion, something he strongly believed in.

For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

What is stunning is that somebody is stunned by the answer. What's new about it - hasn't it been well known all along? Further, I'd add that 'upar ki kamayee', plus job security provides the perfect recipe for low productivity, and thereby the imperative of privatisation.  

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Would Maharashtra govt like to confirm the NRK jobs too?

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This August, Class V dropouts will take a written exam along with MPhil degree holders, postgraduates and graduates in basic maths, language and aptitude to prove their competency for five porters' (hamals') jobs.

The Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) will conduct a state-level written exam for over 2,500 people who have applied for the grade D post. "It is not possible to conduct interviews for all the applicants. Hence, we decided on an examination. The selection will be based on merit," MPSC secretary Rajendra Mangrulkar told TOI on Monday.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

A few months back, I had come upon another ToI report, relevant excerpts from which are reproduced below (full text may be accessed here).

'Minimum government, maximum governance' has been one of PM Narendra Modi's catchiest slogans. But the Modi government is set to add more than two lakh central employees over a period of two years from March 1, 2015, despite the Centre's announcements from time to time on a freeze in fresh recruitments.

The central government's actual staff on March 1, 2015 was 33.05 lakh, which increased to 34.93 lakh in 2016 and is estimated to grow to 35.23 lakh by March 1, 2017, according to the budget estimates for 2016-17. This includes the railways — which has not added a single worker to its strength of 13,26,437 in the last three years — but excludes the defence forces.

The biggest increase of 70,000 is projected in the revenue department which comprises income tax and customs and excise, followed by central paramilitary forces, projected to rise by 47,000. The strength of the home ministry, excluding paramilitary forces, has increased by 6,000.

- - - A major reason for the spurt in hiring is that many departments faced acute staff crunch in Group B and C categories due to a moratorium on fresh recruitments for the past several years.


A lot of the new appointments have been in these categories. Vacancies have piled up over the years. More than six lakh posts are vacant in various central government ministries, according to the personnel ministry.

Now, whereas it may be in order to employ group B and C staff directly (as in the latter case), where is the need to do that in the case of "porters"? And, as to the 'why' of even post graduates applying for such jobs, the explanations have already been provided in the opening post itself - essentially "job security".

Well, for all of that, if the Maharashtra govt is indeed going to be employing such level of workers, I expect, it will not be far off before it starts employing (directly) "night rat killers" (NRK 's - check my opening post) too.

The question that I would again like to ask is "shouldn't the government be outsourcing as many of these jobs as possible to companies like TeamLease (who are largely known to play by the rules), rather than employing them directly, for all of the reasons already stated in the opening post"?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

hire & fire, the only way out

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The Supreme Court refused to give any relief to a conductor, whose job was terminated by Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) for not issuing tickets to 78 passengers while he collected fare worth Rs 1,638 in 1990.

- - - If people like him started misappropriating the money by not issuing the ticket and pocketing the money thereby causing loss to the corporation then it is a serious misconduct,” the court observed, adding that  Pradeep had started indulging in malpractices in his first year of service itself.

“If this is the state of affairs in first year and if such persons are let off with a light punishment then this will be a wrong signal to the other persons similarly situated. All the state corporations in the country have gone in the red because of the misconduct of such kind of incumbents,” the court said.

Feeling aggrieved, the conductor had moved the labour court which ruled that the punishment awarded was too severe. UPSRTC then moved the High Court.


For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.

It takes 19 years to finally terminate a government employee, even where it's an open & shut case. In the first place, the question that needs to be raised is "why did the labour court even entertain the conductor's case?". Quite as the court has observed "all the state corporations in the country have gone in the red because of the misconduct of such kind of incumbents". And, it's not just the Transport corporations, but every other government organisation. How can you have any discipline when there's this kind of a job security? Very clearly, there's no option other than plain "hire & fire", very much like in the private sector (check here), where besides you don't enjoy the benefits of the regular pay commission awards irrespective of whether you perform or not.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

labour aristocracy in action

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After the Supreme Court showed strong disapproval of Food Corporation of India departmental labourers drawing lakhs of rupees as monthly salary, the Centre said it has decided to reintroduce contractual labourers in FCI's 63 depots, godowns and railheads.

On January 9, the SC had said there was something "seriously wrong" with the FCI where 370 departmental labourers were paid Rs 4.5 lakh a month, a salary that was much more than the President of India.

On Friday, solicitor general Ranjit Kumar informed a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dhananjaya Chandrachud that the Centre has issued a notification on July 6 to revert to contractual labourers for loading and unloading of foodgrain sacks at FCI depots.

Contractual labourers were abolished from FCI depots from 1970. This means it would be introduced again after 46 years. Kumar also said that the government would gradually phase out departmental labourers.


- - - The court had referred to a report of the high-level committee which said that the Rs 1,800 crore salary bill for labourers in FCI was unacceptable. The committee also pointed out that apart from these 370, there were other departmental labourers who earned a monthly average salary of Rs 80,000 and that in contrast, the contractual labourers doing the same job earned Rs 10,000 per month.

The court's guess turned out to be true as it was admitted by the government that those drawing salaries in lakhs had actually engaged contractual labourers. Since salaries could not be paid to the contractual labourers, the departmental labourer who engaged them was collecting the entire money for their behalf showing erroneously that a single departmental labourer was drawing hefty salary, advocate for FCI workers Union Amit Sibal told SC.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

This is the classic "labour aristocracy" in action, and it is not confined just to FCI. It's very much there in most government set-ups and PSU's, though, of course, the FCI lot may have taken it to the limits.

For instance, the following excerpts from a ToI report of a few years back (check my post of 28th March, 2014, scrolling above; not much has changed since then), shows the treatment meted out by BMTC to probationary drivers, even as the labour aristocracy have everything their way:

BMTC driver Krishna is not the only frustrated driver among the over 20,000 employees on probation. John D'Souza, member of the United Employees Union (UEU) of BMTC and KSRTC told TOI some drivers have been on probation for 12 years. - - - "The management keeps exploiting probationary drivers who're made to work full-time and paid a meagre Rs 7,000 as stipend. Most often, an employee gets less than this due to deductions of fines levied against him. It's wrong to make mistakes but then they're not intentional. As a penalty, the management would extend the probation period by 6 months to 12 months," D'Souza claimed.

Likewise in every government undertaking/ department.

In fact, as brought out here, the "raison d'etre" for continuance of the public sector, has by and large become its 'exploitation' by the members of the various types of mafia confederations involved, ironically referred to as 'stake-holders', their actual stake being plain self-interest. The "labour aristocracy" is another such mafia-dom. The answer very plainly is "hire & fire" policy, as brought out in my post of 29th June (scroll above to read).

In fact, the governments are fully aware of the 'dangers' of having workers on their permanent rolls, and that's why they avoid it to the extent possible. But, that talk being "politically incorrect", they can't openly say it. Leave alone the government and politicians, even the 'janata' largely chooses to remain politically correct, lest they be labelled capitalist/ anti-poor/ khaas aadmi, etc, etc - more on that can be accessed here.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

job permanency an anomaly in today's world

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Infosys has said it will ramp-down about 3,000 jobs following Royal Bank of Scotland's decision to cancel the project to set up a separate bank in the UK - check the full text of the report in the Economic Times, here.

Cisco Systems' announcement on Wednesday that it plans to lay off 5,500 employees is unlikely to be the last round of Silicon Valley pink slips as hardware companies struggle to keep up with rapid technology shifts, analysts and recruiters said. - - - The Cisco layoffs come in the wake of Intel's announcement in April that it was laying off 12,000 workers. Dell Inc said in January it had shed 10,000 jobs and is expected to make further cuts after it closes a $67 billion deal to acquire data storage company EMC Corp - check the full text of the report in the ToI, here.

Ola Shutting Down TaxiForSure, Hundreds to Be Laid Off - The number of people being laid off could be between 700 and 1000, depending upon various reports, part of a growing trend in India's digital economy as companies that were able to spend lavishly without worrying about the bottom line, are now being pressed to show profits -check the full text of the report in NDTV.com, here.

Essentially what all of these mean is that, with there being no permanency for businesses in today's fast changing world, there can't be permanency for jobs too. So, what happens to all of these people who get displaced? Now, in a growing economy like in India (with 7% odd GDP growth), there are more and more new jobs being created simultaneously. If one has acquired good skill sets during the course of his/ her earlier job, and put away some savings too, the transition needn't be too difficult. But, the ones who went about life like there's no tomorrow will find themselves at loose ends. Well, it's a competitive world, and it's going to be more and more so in future, and if you bother to work hard, the sky is the limit.

In such a scenario, government jobs, offering permanency at even peon and poura-karmika levels, are a total anomaly, which is best done away with earliest.
 

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

there's no disciplining this lot

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The old Airport traffic police on Friday seized a BMTC bus and arrested the driver for recklessly abandoning the bus for 15 minutes near Thulasi Theatre in Marathahalli, causing a traffic jam during peak hours.

- - - In a second instance later in the afternoon, traffic police seized another BMTC bus parked near Manipal Hospital. A police official told Express: “The bus had broken down around 1.30 pm and no one was informed about it. Hours later traffic started piling up and it was obstructing the CM’s convoy as well. Higher officials were immediately alerted. It’s a Volvo bus and towing is also not possible. We got to know that the bus was hired by a multinational company.”

On Thursday, a case was booked against another BMTC bus for obstructing traffic on Marathahalli bridge. Police officials said they have launched a crackdown on buses that hamper smooth movement of traffic. “Many buses halt in the middle of the roads and causes severe traffic congestion and also accidents,” the official added.


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the New Indian Express, click here.

There's no way this highly unionised lot can be disciplined, and consequently, there's no way the BMTC can be relied upon. The simple answer is to allow for effective competition from reputed private players, which is what this debate is all about. At least that way, even if the indiscipline continues, the commuters (in fact the city itself) will not be held to ransom, quite as we have seen in civil aviation, telecom, banking, insurance and other sectors that have opened out to competition. Time the citizens raised the demand for it.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

for, of and by the labour aristocracy

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The PSU workforce was trimmed by nearly 50,000 over the last one year, but the per capita expense on employees rose 10% over the same period.

For the full text of an excellent report in IndiaSpend, click here.

PSU's today essentially remain "for, of and by the labour aristocracy", as a part of the overall mafia confederation ruling them. This government's biggest "adharma" has been the continuance of most of the lot that should have been closed down or sold out long ago.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

welcome initiative by health department

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Adopting the corporate practice of outsourcing housekeeping work to a third-party vendor, the government has directed all deputy commissioners in districts to switch to the "outsource-mode" for filling up 2,459 Group D posts in government hospitals.

Group D employees, in government parlance, comprise the lowest rung of the administrative machinery who deal with routine duties. The other layers are: Group A - senior bureaucrats in leadership roles; Group B - middle management; Group C - those who perform supervisory and operative tasks.

- - - Health department sources said the move will increase efficiency among staff. "It is difficult to manage ward assistants and sanitary attendants, especially in rural areas. Any action against them for dereliction of duty often results in groupism and unruly scenes. However, such situations can be avoided by outsourcing work to a third party and fixing responsibility. This is precisely how corporate companies operate in the housekeeping field and we are trying to replicate that in hospitals."


For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

Efficiency, and responsibility are synonymous with accountability. And, that can come about only if there's a fear of losing one's job. Governments resorting to outsourcing is an indication of their acceptance of that truism and becoming more responsible thereof. The Health Department needs to be complimented for taking the initiative. The government would do well to ensure that all other departments too follow suit, henceforth.

Simultaneously, the government also needs to look at down-sizing itself, in keeping with the new mantra of "less government; more governance", as suggested here, apart from getting totally out of producing goods and providing services (with some rare exceptions, perhaps), at which their PSU's can never hope to compete with the private sector, eventually becoming total burdens on the economy - check here.

As such, the statement by the CM that "contractual ones (pourakarmikas) will be made permanent pending a cabinet decision", going by this report in the ToI, is in total contrast to the Health department's sensible approach, and he would do well not to indulge in such talk (reference is also drawn to my post of 5th July, 2014, under the caption "hot pourakarmika job", scrolling above, as also Praja debates here and here). All of initiatives like "pourakarmikas who clean the city's streets every day will now get Iskcon's midday meals", etc, reported alongwith, are of course most welcome.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

brazen discrimination

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Dr B R Ambedkar fought for equality. But his jayanti also marks discrimination for a large section of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) pourakarmikas.

The civic body is giving a bonus of Rs 19,000 to permanent D group employees including pourakarmikas to mark Ambedkar jayanti. But contract pourakarmikas who do similar works will get nothing on the occasion.

A BBMP order said the bonus will be paid to permanent pourakarmikas, gangmen, gardeners and other D group employees who are permanent workers.

BBMP has over 30,000 pourakarmikas of whom only around 4,000 are permanent staff.

- - - BBMP sources said last year there was a proposal to give Rs 5,000 to contract workers, but it was not sanctioned as it requires more funds. “We know it is  discrimination, but it should come from the state government or senior officials,” said a BBMP official.

The discrimination is also seen in salaries. Permanent staff are paid Rs 25,000-Rs 34,000 monthly based on seniority, while contract staff get Rs 7,000.  


“Contract or permanent, the pourakarmikas sweep roads and collect waste. But one section gets Rs 7,000 and the other gets Rs 34,000 for doing the same job. This is inhuman and discrimination,” said a contract pourakarmika.

For the full text (emphasis added by me) of the report in the New Indian Expres, click here.

This kind of a discrimination is the order of the day in almost all government undertakings. Now, can the government afford to make all of the employees (30,000 in the case of just pourakarmika's) permanent, and pay salaries of a minimum of Rs 25 K per month? If so, are the citizens prepared to bear the corresponding hefty tax increases? And, equally importantly, given the work culture, vitiated by the fact that it's next to impossible to sack a permanent worker (for more on that, click here), however grave his/ her misdeed, will any work get done at all?

It's all fine for the bleeding heart Socialist lot to demand the highest of salaries and best of working conditions for any and everyone. But, one hopes thay'll first bother to understand some basic economics.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

how long more do you want to carry on the bluff?

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ToI has reported (emphasis added by me - for the full text, click here) - "´╗┐Thousands of contract pourakarmikas associated with the city's civic body, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), have called off their indefinite strike and decided to attend work from Wednesday. The move comes after assurance from the state government which said the contract system, against which pourakarmikas had been protesting, will be abolished soon and all pourakarmikas will be regularised by July this year."

Another report on the same page, in the same paper, reads - "Bengaluru development minister K J George was noncommittal in the assembly on Tuesday . “We will give preference to those working on contract to fill vacant posts,'' he said. Another round of meeting will be held with them on June 19 and a decision will be taken, he added. - - - - Government sources said they cannot afford to regularize pourakarmikas working on contract as it would cause complications; other government employees working on contract like drivers and helpers would also take the cue and protest."

Very plainly, it's time the govt stopped carrying on this game of bluff, and started talking 'straight' to the workers (well, not just to them too). Yes, the workers need to be paid well, particularly for the pourakarmika's, since it's a difficult and back-breaking job. But, if the contract system has to go, there has to be a simpler way of sacking a "recalcitrant" worker, rather than the tortuous process obtaining presently.

Perhaps an "Ombudsman" set up whereby a decision on a labour dispute is arrived at over a maximum of three sittings (over a maximum of a 45-day period), would be enough to check arbitrariness on the employer's part. Provisions may be made for challenging the decision in the courts, but at prohibitive costs (which can be refunded against favourable outcome), which will make for the unions to think if there's sufficient merit in the case.

Apart from all of these are the cases of job redundancies on account of technological advances, like with the advent of vacuum road sweepers, etc. When these happen, there is no option other than to offer a severance package and downsize the work force. Today, as such, the whole idea of job permanency has become outmoded. In such a scenario, the government would do well to start talking straight rather than continue to bluff their way along as they have been doing all these years.

More on the subject may be accessed here

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Ostrich syndrome

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With the state government insisting that there should be only one pourakarmika for every 700 people in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), many contract pourakarmikas are now afraid of losing their jobs.
 
The under secretary to the Urban Development Department issued the order to ULBs stating that this is as per the Cabinet decision. 
 
While some contract pourakarmikas will be absorbed as permanent, the contracts of others will be terminated after their term is over. These people will be paid directly by ULBs and not by the contractors. 
 
This has left pourakarmikas worried. “I am 53 years old and have been working as a contract pourakarmika for 16 years. I have only a few years before I retire, so I will be sacked,” said Rani C, who works in Rajajinagar. An employee from the Solid Waste Management Department in BBMP said 120 to 130 pourakarmikas work in each ward. “If we go by the new rule, the numbers will reduce to 70. Where should the others go?’’ he asked. 
 
BBMP Additional Commissioner (Health) Sarfaraz Khan said there are 32,000 pourakarmikas. 
 
“With the new rule, the number will be reduced to 15,000. As per the Development Corporation of Karnataka rules, we need 15,000 pourakarmikas. Even today, we have only 15,000 pourakarmikas. The others are garbage truck drivers and other staffers,” he claimed. However, official sources confirmed that some pourakarmikas will lose their job. “At least 4,000 people will lose their jobs,’’ a senior official said.
 
For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.
 
Now, when it was reported that all of the pourakarmika's will be made permanent, I had expressed my doubts (check my post of 14th June - scrolling above), since the govt will be faced with similar demands from the multitude of temporary workers across its very many agencies, which it just cannot afford to meet (for reasons already stated in the 14th June post, as well as the opening post, as also here and elsewhere too). But, apparently, with the pourakarmika agitation, particularly in Bengaluru, having a more visible impact, the govt seems to have acceded, though the implications for many, like 53-yr old Rani, quoted in the report, are that they are going to lose their jobs. 
 
Further, with drastically reduced numbers, who have besides now become part of the 'labour aristocracy', how the BBMP is going to carry out its functions is to be seen. 
 
Now, the only reason why even double/ post graduates are queueing up to take up the pourakarmika job (and even as a night-rat killer - see my opening post) is because of the attraction of becoming a govt servant, upon getting confirmed, and then joining the labour aristocracy and enjoying all the benefits thereof (including the recent Singapore trips - check here), for little work done.
 
Now, supposing the govt decides on a hire & fire policy, with just the Ombudsman arrangement (referred to in my post of 14th June) to ensure fairplay, there will no longer be any attraction for these jobs, and workers will move to other areas (like masons, carpenters, plumbers, etc) about which they can hold their heads high and talk, or even move back to their villages and take up farm work, perhaps with additional MNREGA support. Resulting out of this, the govt will necessarily have to pay much higher salaries for the pourakarmika work, which is just as well. 
 
All in all, the work culture will improve, with workers endeavouring to acquire higher and higher levels of skills, which alone will decide future increments and promotions. 
 
The present approach of the govt, as also the bleeding heart pseudo-Socialists, unfortunately, remains proverbial Ostrich-like.   
 
Muralidhar Rao


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