Metro headed for disruption from Thursday as talks fail

BENGALURU: With a conciliation meeting between the management and employees failing, Namma Metro operations could be hit from Thursday.
The INTUC-backed Bangalore Metro Rail () is demanding recognition of the union, end to harassment of union members, redressal of members’ grievances and abolition of the contract labour system.

The regional labour commissioner on Monday held second round of talks with BMRCL officials and disgruntled employees from 11:30am to 5:30pm, but BMREU said the management failed to give any assurance on meeting their demands.

BMREU vice-president Suryanarayana Murthy said: “We are extremely disappointed with the outcome of the meeting. In the morning session, they assured us that they’d look into all our demands, but they changed their stand in the afternoon. We are aware about the inconveniences passengers may face, but we are forced to go on an indefinite from March 22.”

The will, on Tuesday, hear a petition filed by BMRCL to bring Metro services under the Karnataka Essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) Act, 2013.

BMRCL officials said they cannot agree to the demand to recognize the union. Other demands like allowances and promotions will be examined once they withdraw the strike call, they said.

Meanwhile, BMRCL has issued a circular stating that it’d not allow any employee from the operations & maintenance (O&M) department to take leave from Monday. Emergency leaves have to be cleared only by BMRCL managing director.

BMRCL managing director Mahendra Jain said most of the union’s demands, including its recognition, are pending in the high court. “There is no provision in the Act for such recognition. We have also offered to look into their reasonable demands, but only after they withdraw the strike call,” he said.

Every day, an average 4 lakh people take the Metro along Purple and Green lines.

ISSUES ON THE TABLE

1 Union’s demand: Recognition of the union

Management’s take: There is no necessity for the formation of a union when service conditions of the employees are reasonably fair and on a par with government servants. The presence of outsiders in the union will not be in the interest of either the management or employees

2) Union’s demand: Increase salaries

Management’s take: BMRCL, a loss-making company, is still giving adequate salaries and allowances to its employees. As per the MoU, the state government has to bear the operational losses. Additional burden will fall upon the state government and, therefore, parity has to be maintained between the salaries of equivalent state government employees and BMRCL employees

3) Union’s demand: Redressal mechanism

Management’s take: BMRCL has constituted grievance redressal mechanism for dealing with complaints of harassment of BMRCL employees. It’ll also establish staff council in line with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (DMRCL), with employees’ representation to address reasonable grievances of employees

4) Union’s demand: Abolition of contract labour system

Management’s take: Out of the 1,485 employees working in the O&M department, only 257 engineers are on contract basis and all were recruited through proper process. Metro rail projects are new to India and require employees with specialized skill sets to implement the projects and operate the services. By taking personnel on contract basis against higher vacancies, we’ll be keeping the promotional avenues of junior employees open and this way BMRCL will be protecting the interest of the regular employees in O&M.

BACK-UP PLAN

* 90 other officers, who are certified to operate Metro trains, to be roped in

* BMRCL to bring trained staff from other Metro corporations

* Try and convince BMREU members or threaten them of the consequences of the stir

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