Operators’ union has long been fighting for timely release of their payment

On Monday, Nagarathna S. set off to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) help centre in Chokkasandra ward like she had for the past five years. When she reached her workplace, the tax inspector and assistant revenue officer informed her that her services had been terminated.

“They were giving me the shocking news with a smirk. My livelihood had just been taken away from me and they were gleeful about it,” she wept.

Ms. Nagarathna is among over 290 computer operators who have been sacked without any notice by the BBMP. The order terminating their employment was issued on June 29 and stated that BBMP no longer required their services from July 1.

Sit in a dharna

Scores of computer operators protested against the BBMP’s “undemocratic decision” by staging a dharna on Wednesday in the BBMP head office. The BBMP Computer Operators’ Union, affiliated with the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, has for long been fighting with the civic authority and demanding timely release of their salaries.

Union general secretary Palaniswamy told The Hindu that 839 computer operators, whose services have been outsourced, have been employed with the BBMP since 2009.

Around 300 computer operators were working in the 260-odd help centres in the city.

New appointments

“The BBMP, after sacking these operators, has now floated a tender to appoint 388 computer operators. Why could the civic body not regularise the services of these operators instead of recruiting afresh?” Mr. Palaniswamy asked.

He also said that the BBMP was yet to disburse pending salaries for the past four months.

Ms. Nagarathna said that the BBMP had utilised the services of the computer operators for not just property tax collections, but also to update property details mapped through GIS (geographical information system) and for election duty.

Another operator, Bharathi R., said many of them were made to work beyond office hours and even on Sundays. “Yet, we were at the receiving end from the citizens. We were blamed even when the systems hanged. The hard work that we put in for so many years is not acknowledged,” she lamented.

The union submitted a memorandum to Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy.

BBMP officials said that with increasing irregularities reported in these help centres, a decision had been taken to phase them out gradually. A senior official said that wherever required, the computer operators would be absorbed to work in its various offices. “However, we cannot run the help centres just for these computer operators,” the official added.

Tax collection won’t be hit: BBMP

With computer operators — all temps supplied by an agency — staging an indefinite strike, the tax collection in the various help centres was affected.

However, the civic officials did not admit to this and stated that the tax inspectors would have assisted the citizens who went to the help centres to pay their property tax. They said that citizens may also pay their tax at the office of the jurisdictional Assistant Revenue Officer, local ward office, citizen service centres in the zonal offices and head office and various BangaloreOne branches, besides paying it online. The BBMP is also in talks with banks to help citizens pay their tax there directly.

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