State turns technicians into peons
Over 1,100 'surplus' workers at Aarey dairy in Worli have been transferred to other state-run departments to work as waiters, bell boys, etc
Over 1,100 skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled class III and IV workers at the Worli dairy, clubbed under the 'surplus' category, have been unceremoniously transferred to state-run establishments, where they are made to perform menial chores.
Name: Liyaqat Shaikh (49)
Service: 29 years
Job at Aarey: Machine spares and repairs (Stores)
Transferred: As attendant in Women and Child Development office in Nagpur
Salary: Rs 17,000
Name: Kanhaiya Singh (48)
Service: 27 years
Job at Aarey: Machine operator (Production department)
Transferred: As peon in Women and Child Development office in Sion
Salary: Rs 16,000
Some of the new designations assigned to them are those of servants and waiters at the Mantralaya canteen, bellboys, housekeepers and attendants in state-run guesthouses, and peons in government offices and state-run forensics labs.
With the speedily plummeting fortunes of Aarey making its privatisation an impending possibility, officials have a mammoth task cut out for them rehabilitating their existing employees, who have spent decades of their lives working for the dairies at Worli, Kurla and Goregaon.
In what appears to be a desperate attempt of the state to ensure that these ousted employees don't attempt to wriggle back into their dairy jobs, the state is offering them exactly the same salary as they earned earlier.
This means that the state is paying between Rs 16,000-17,000 for chores like washing dishes, serving food, cleaning hotel sheets and wiping glass jars.
Praful Bhadalekar, general secretary of the union at Worli said, "Eight of our security guards were shunted from the Worli dairy and assigned jobs as bell boys, house keeping staff, attendants and waiters at the guest houses like Sahyadri and Nandgiri.
The state government should have taken the trouble of rehabilitating them to jobs in which they have a degree of expertise and experience.
It is beneath their station to work as waiters and bellboys, being at people's beck and call. In fact, all eight guards returned to the dairy three months ago, claiming that they had been posted at jobs, which were beneath their station in life."
In another instance, the government officials transferred some mechanics from the dairy to the state forensic lab in Kalina.
"They are skilled workers, and have spent decades wielding their screw drivers; it is an unfair reversal for them to wield rags in an air-conditioned lab, where they perform commonplace tasks like polishing glass jars and test tubes.
Frustrated with their new jobs, many of them have returned to the dairy, asking to be taken back," added Bhadalekar.
Officials are planning to shunt more dairy employees to remote areas like Ratnagiri, Raigad, Sindhudurg and Oras. This has the staff members up in arms.
It appears that state officials have conveniently overlooked the fact that Mumbai is accredited with an A+ grade, which means that the house rent allowance (HRA) allotted to a government employee here is 30 per cent of the basic salary. In the rural areas, the HRA is a mere five per cent of the basic salary.
"The surplus staff members are all in the age group of 45-55 years, with more than 80 per cent of them due for retirement within the next 10 years.
We had requested the state officials to consider the possibility of retaining them as replacement for recently retired staff members, so that we could avail of their skill and expertise for the ailing dairy.
But our requests were ignored," said Vijay Sonawane, president of the Greater Mumbai Milk Scheme Worker's Union, affiliated to the State Government Employees Federation led by Sunil Joshi and R C Karnik.
Since Monday, dairy workers at Worli have been staging
protests against the impending privatisation of Aarey
The murmurs among the union members have now turned to outraged slogans like "Dairy bandha karu denar nahin,builder la aath yeu denar nahin... rajya sarkar hai hai," (We will not allow you to close the dairy, we wont allow builders to come in.
Down with the government), which have been resounding across the lush dairy grounds since Monday.
Break up of 1,100 surplus staff members in class III and class IV categories
Milk Transport Service (MTS)
Milk Delivery Man: 250
Machine Operator: 225
Milk bottle bearers: 200
Milk dispatcher: 50
Bottle checker: 35
Raw milk receiving dock clerk: 10
I did not take the offer, as I was not comfortable with the job profile, and requested to be retained in the dairy. I have given 29 years of my career to the dairy
I have been a machine operator for 27 years. I could not work as a peon in the shabby office, which lacked even drinking water facilities. I went for a few days, but abandoned the job,
to return to the dairy department
I won't work anywhere else. I have put in my 31 years of service and I cannot work as a waiter in a government guest house
(All 3 have returned to the dairy, unhappy with their transfers)
The Other Side
Dairy Commissioner RD Shinde said, "I am not in charge of the transfer of surplus staff members. We have already sent a list of their names to the divisional commissioner at Konkan Bhavan, who have been vested with the responsibility."