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Lord! Please help your sevaks

Lord! Please help your sevaks
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Millions visit the abode of Lord Venkateswara with a prayer on their lips seeking blessings and to end their misery. But it is an endless saga of suffering for the workers at Tirumala who serve the pligrims. The Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams, which has the distinction of the biggest temple administration in the country,

Several protests in the past against the exploitation of the temporary or outsourcing workers, which is rampant in almost all departments, have not moved the TTD bosses to address the workers’ issues

Tirupati: Millions visit the abode of Lord Venkateswara with a prayer on their lips seeking blessings and to end their misery. But it is an endless saga of suffering for the workers at Tirumala who serve the pligrims. The Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams, which has the distinction of the biggest temple administration in the country, is providing a raw deal to the employees who are working under different societies and not-for-profit organisations.

Each organisation as a different set of rules which only exploits the workforce than providing apt remuneration for the ‘seva’ they render. Several protests in the past against the exploitation of the temporary or outsourcing workers, which is rampant in almost all departments, have not moved the TTD bosses to address the workers’ issues. Lack of a uniform policy for outsourcing has left several critical issues unanswered as the fight of the temporary workers to protect their legitimate rights goes on endlessly.

“Though there are around 13,000 outsourcing workers in various departments of the TTD, there is no common rule applied,” says G Markandeyulu, vice-president of TTD Contract Workers and Employees Union. Citing the example of Sulabh International with which nearly 3,000 contract workers are engaged to maintain the environs of Tirumala clean round-the-clock, Markandeyulu pointed out that Sulabh refuses to adhere to the labour laws stating it is a not-for-profit organisation and as such it does not come under the ambit of labour laws.

Like Sulabh, there are other agencies such as All Services, Panorama, BVG, Crystal and Kalpatharu who have their own set of rules. Markandeyulu rues that there are no changing rooms for women staff who come all the way from Tirupati to Tirumala. “While most of the contract staff start from their home in their uniforms, a few of them who arrive at Tirumala are forced to use the public toilets or isolated places to change the dress,” he explains. Meanwhile, M Nagarjuna, president of TTD Staff and Workers United Front, regrets that there are no common rules for outsourcing agencies and workers. He attributes the absence of minimum scale of Rs 15,000 to outsourcing workers as one of reasons for the sorry state of affairs.

By:Sandeep Raghavan

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