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Horticulture department workers stage protests demanding benefits

January 23, 2023 06:21 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:10 am IST

Horticulture Department workers staging a demonstration inside the Government Botanical Garden in the Nilgiris  on Monday.

Horticulture Department workers staging a demonstration inside the Government Botanical Garden in the Nilgiris on Monday. | Photo Credit: M. SATHYAMOORTHY

Hundreds of workers employed by the Department of Horticulture and plantation crops in the Nilgiris staged a protest at the Government Botanical Garden (GBG) on Monday, demanding better pay, post-retirement benefits and promotions.

The protesters, who are agitating under the banner of the Joint Committee for Garden and Farm Workers, stated that a section of workers are employed as permanent staff members. “Apart from an average pay of ₹ 10,000 to ₹11,000 per person, none of these workers have any additional benefits such as pensions or gratuity,” said one of the protesters speaking to The Hindu. “One of our demands is that these workers be paid based on regular pay scale, as opposed to the special pay scale using which they have been employed. Paying workers on the regular scale which will ensure that each worker will be paid around ₹ 15,700 on average,” he added.

Apart from better pay for the permanent garden and farm workers, the protesters also wanted the Horticulture Department to pay temporary workers the minimum wage in the district as stipulated by the government of around ₹750 per day, and regularise workers who have been employed for a period of more than five years. “We are also demanding that workers who have adequate educational qualifications, such as college degrees be considered for promotions to sanctioned posts in the department,” one of the organisers of the protests stated.

K. Vijayan, an advocate representing the interests of the workers, stated that the government earns huge amounts of revenue from the labour of workers in the GBG, the Rose Garden, Sims Park and other parks run by the Horticulture Department in the Nilgiris. “Despite contributing immensely to the economy and livelihoods of lakhs of people in the district, the interests of these workers are not safeguarded,” said Mr. Vijayan, who urged the government to fulfil the demands made by the workers.

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