RTI documents procured by activists reveal that the high-profile BVG Kshitij engaged in collection and disposal of municipal solid waste management in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, has manipulated attendance records of waste pickers for paying lower wages
BVG Kshitij Waste Management Services Pvt Ltd has been hired by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to carry out the work of door-to-door collection, segregation and transportation of municipal solid waste in its B and C wards for a period of five years from January 2012 to December 2016. The company employs waste pickers affiliated to the local NGO, Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP).
As per the rules for sweepers and scavengers and belled cart workmen in municipal corporation limits, the daily wage structure is: 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2012: Rs240.52 per day (Rs6,253.75 per month); 1 January 2013 to 30 June 2013: Rs 254.06 per day (Rs6,605.50 per month). Besides these minimum wages, they are entitled to statutory benefits like House Rent Allowance @ 5% of their minimum wages, as well as employer’s PF and ESI contribution @ 12% of minimum wages and 4.75% of gross wages, respectively.
The waste collection work in Wards B and C is to be undertaken with deployment of 313 helpers on the waste collection vehicles, each of them operating for 30 or 31 days per month. “Hence, the total number of worker days required for B and C wards as per the agreement is 9,390 and 9,703 respectively”, states Lakshmi Narayan, general secretary of KKPKP.
However, since the last four months, KKPKP has repeatedly brought to the notice of the PCMC authorities that workers under the waste collection contractors in PCMC were being paid wages between Rs50 and Rs100 per day instead of Rs254 stipulated under the Minimum Wages Act. While the PCMC attendance records maintained at the ward level shows that workers are being paid the right amount of Rs254 per day, the worker days attendance and wage register maintained by BVG showed a major discrepancy. In the sample taken by the labour department of 70 workers, the record showed that while all of them had worked between 28 to 30 or 31 days as per the PCMC record, the BVG record showed that they worked only between 11-18 days. Salaries were given as per the BVG record which therefore came to around an abysmal Rs50 to Rs100 per day.
To further prove this discrepancy by BVG, the KKPKP invoked the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A sample of three months’ attendance/ operation record procured by Moneylife from KKPKP shows that in April 2012, the PCMC attendance record is 7,674 worker days whereas BVG records show it as 4,780 worker days. In May 2012, PCMC records attendance of 7,903 workers days for the month as per its wage records while BVG’s document shows 4,759. In August 2012, the PCMC records attendance of 8,312 worker days as per its daily attendance/operation records while BVG’s documents shows only 4,739.
Harshad Barde, member of KKPKP is the one who has systematically and painstakingly collated information under the RTI Act. Explaining how BVG managed to fudge the records, Barde states, “The attendance records kept by PCMC show very low absenteeism of workers. But the records maintained for payment of minimum wages to the workers under the Minimum Wages Act show much lower worker attendance. The discrepancy between the two attendance records is around 4,000 man days of work per month for around 14 months. The actual payment to workers has been done on the basis of falsified attendance records showing that each of them has worked for around 10-12 days per month to make the wages correspond, while they have actually worked for a full month.”
Narayan states that, “Preliminary calculations reveal that the discrepancy in payment made to all wastepickers for the past 14 months will be to the tune of Rs3,20,00,000. This does not include the amounts rightfully due to drivers and other employees of the contractors. The wages calculated as per actual days of work attended are as low as Rs30 for an eight-hour work day.”
KKPKP brought this matter to the notice of the Labour Department, Pune, which corroborated the complaints in its Inspection carried out on 22 February 2013. In the presence of the Labour Inspector, PCMC authorities committed to withholding payment to BVG Kshitij till they verified the actual wages paid out to the workers, says Narayan.
Ratnadeep Hendre, Additional Labour Commissioner, observed that the PCMC being the principal employer, should look into the matter of ensuring due payments to workers and that claims should be filed by all waste pickers for unpaid dues since 1 January 2012. The PCMC though has yet to take any action.
Informs Narayan about the labour department’s inspection, “Attendance records maintained by the PCMC at the ward level for the month of February were compared with the wage register of the BVG and the attendance records of workers purported there. This was done in the presence of officials from the Health Department and the Labour Department of the PCMC. The discrepancies are glaring. Information compiled for 70 workers (data for all wards was not available) show discrepancies of between 10 and 23 days in a 28 day month per worker with an amount of between Rs2,500 and Rs5,800 owed to each of them for just the month of February!”
With the PCMC mum on this matter, over 150 waste pickers of KKPKP peacefully protested against this injustice early this week. It has made the following demands to the PCMC:
The raids come close on the heels of the DMK pulling out of the Congress-led UPA alliance and its five ministers resigning from the Union cabinet
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday carried out searches at 19 places across Tamil Nadu, including the residence of DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin in Chennai in a case of alleged tax evasion of imported cars.
The CBI team reached the house of Stalin in Chennai, who is alleged to be one of the beneficiaries of importing foreign cars, agency officials said.
The raids come close on the heels of the DMK pulling out of the Congress-led UPA alliance and its five ministers resigning from the Union cabinet.
An FIR (first information report) was registered on Wednesday against one senior Intelligence Officer of Directorate of Revenue Murganandam and two others for allegedly abusing their official position by not taking any action when the import of foreign cars, including some limousines, was made.
According to the FIR, the officials have allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy with unknown people and caused a loss of Rs20 crore to the exchequer.
One of the imported cars is being used by Stalin’s son, officials said, adding after further investigation names of beneficiaries of importing the car would be included in the FIR.
The CBI said that the FIR was registered on the basis of a “source information” as the agency had been probing the leads in the case for quite some time.
Raids were going on at other places including a business house, house of an owner of a medical college and others, the sources said.
Stalin dubbed the CBI raid as a “political vendetta” and said he would face the case legally.
“I am not aware of the reasons for the raid. We will face the case legally,” 60-year old Stalin, considered the political heir of Karunanidhi, told media persons in Chennai.
As the news of CBI raids spread, senior DMK leaders and a large number of party supporters gathered at the residence of Stalin.
Meanwhile, Union finance minister P Chidambaram said that he strongly disapprove of the CBI action on DMK leader Stalin.
Chidambaram also added that whatever may be the reason, he is afraid that it may bound to be misunderstood. Chidambaram stated that he had conveyed his view to the minister in-charge.
The protesting employees have urged RCB players to boycott Mallya’s team. They have also asked the BCCI not to allow RCB to participate in the upcoming IPL
Frustrated over not getting salaries for the last 10 months, Kingfisher Airlines employees on Wednesday asked the government to act against promoter Vijay Mallya and threatened to disrupt Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.
“If Gopal Kanda, promoter of MDLR airlines, can be prosecuted for suicide of an employee why can’t the government prosecute Vijay Mallya for suicide of the family member of his employees,” said Santosh Gautam, president of Kingfisher Airlines Maintenance Association.
They also threatened to disrupt IPL matches of the Royal Challenger Bangalore (RCB), the team owned by Mallya. “Last time, when Formula 1 race was being organised in New Delhi, afraid of our protests, KFA management paid our salary of one month and assured to pay the dues in instalments but they have failed to keep their promises. This time, we will protest outside the venue wherever RCB team plays their matches,” said S C Mishra, another employee.
The protesting employees have urged RCB players to boycott Mallya’s team. They have also asked the BCCI not to allow RCB to participate in the upcoming IPL.
The employees asked the government to amend labour laws making non-payment of salaries a criminal offence and said “the Supreme Court should take suo motu cognizance of our matter in specific and in general for overall reforms required for the benefit of working class.”
Seeking an early intervention on the issue, the employees have written letters to the president, the prime minister, the chief justice of India, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation Arun Mishra.