Demanding minimum wages, medical and financial benefits, public holidays and permanent employee status, the contract workers of the State’s five Electricity Supply Companies and Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) took out a rally here on Wednesday.
More than 250 contract workers from Bangalore Electricity Supply Company, Mangalore Electricity Supply Company, Hubli Electricity Supply Company, Gulbarga Electricity Supply Company and Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Company participated in the rally.
The Electricity Employees’ Federation of India (EEFI), in association with Centre of Indian Trade Union, demanded that the Energy Department fulfil all its 10 demands.
Mahesh Belthangady, contract worker from Udupi, said that there had been no hike in the salary since 1998.
“We work on all days of the week, three shifts a day. We get paid Rs. 3,000 a month, while permanent employees, who do the same work as us, get paid Rs. 30,000 a month,” he said.
Rajappa, CITU leader from Bellary, claimed that he was lured into the job with better working prospects and relocated to Bellary with his family. Dejected over the working conditions, he decided to fight for employees like himself and became a union leader. “Yet, our voices are not heard by the department,” he said.
CITU secretary Shivakumar stated that the transmission loss in the State is 24 per cent, which is a revenue loss of Rs. 12,000 crore. This, he said, was more than double the average transmission loss in the country, which is around 10 per cent.
“The losses can be reduced if manpower is strengthened. For instance, there are nearly 6,000 vacancies in Mangalore Electricity Supply Company.
The Supreme Court, in the Umadevi vs Union of India case, ruled that contract workers who had been working for more than 10 years can be regularised. However, instead of regularising the contract workers, most of whom have been working for more than 12 years, the companies are recruiting fresh candidates, he said.
CITU general secretary Mahesh L.P. said that the federation members would soon meet Minister for Energy Shobha Karandlaje and KPTCL managing director Selva Kumar to press for their demands.