|Workers maintain the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex
It’s a been a 15-year-long struggle for 91 workers of the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex located in Balewadi. A struggle they won after taking their case to the Bombay High Court (HC) and Supreme Court (SC). However , their legal victories have meant nothing as justice has not been served till date.
A recruitment process for various jobs at the sports complex, that was to be the venue for the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2008, began in 1997. The process took four years and 114 employees were recruited in 2001. Initially, workers were hired on a daily- wage basis for posts such as drivers, electricians, plumbers, lifeguards, etc.
Workers came from all over Maharashtra and were promised permanent postings in the coming years. Today, only 91 of these 114 are still employed and none of them have been made permanent. Datta Gaikwad (42), the workers’ union secretary and an electrician at the stadium, explains, “On July 16, 2001 an advertisement appeared in a local newspaper. It was put in by the Director of Sports and Youth Services, Government of Maharashtra.
The advertisement stated that all existing workers would be removed from their posts and a new recruitment drive would be undertaken to hire employees on a contract basis. This shocked all of us and in August, we formed a union under the Rashtriya Mazdoor Sangh and got a stay order on the notice.”
Since then, Gaikwad and his union have been requesting the management to make them permanent employees. When their requests went unheard, in 2002, the union filed a case against in the Pune Industrial Court. On February 7, 2005 the Industrial Court ruled in favour of the workers and ordered the management to make them permanent.
However, the management moved the HC and subsequently the SC to challenge the ruling. Their case was dismissed in both courts in favour of the workers. The SC order came on September 18, 2009. “All the necessary documents and a list of the 91 workers along with their job profiles was given to the management, but nothing happened. After waiting for 15 years, we decided to file a Contempt of Court case against the management.
The case was filed on September 20 in the Pune Industrial Court. On November 20, the Court asked the management to follow through with the order or clear their stand on December 1,” said Sunil Shinde, state president of the Rashtriya Mazdoor Sangh. Shinde added, “We spent around Rs 8 lakh on legal proceedings. Even though they work overtime, workers are given salaries ranging between Rs 7,000 and Rs 11,000.
They get no overtime payments and their financial states are very bad. ” Apart from the 91 workers, housekeeping and security staff been hired on a contract basis. Despite this, old workers have to look after the overall management of the stadium which is spread over 154 acres. “The average electricity bill of the stadium is around Rs 25 lakh per month and there are only two electricians.
There is one lifeguard for the three swimming pools and a shortage of workers at the stadium. We have to pick up the load. If a worker takes leave, his salary for the day is cut. They don’t get any casual or sick leave. Sporting stars such as Gagan Narang or Saina Nehwal have played here and become successful after practicing at our stadium. Our efforts help their game,” said Gaikwad.
The workers’ union say that if they are not made permanent as soon as possible, they will start an agitation or strike so that their demands are fulfilled. Pankaj Kumar, Maharashtra sports commissioner, he said, “It is not easy to create posts in the sports department, so the issue is taking time. I submitted a detailed report to the Sports Ministry earlier this year asking that these workers be made permanent and am awaiting a reply.”
► All documents and a list of 91 workers with job profiles was given to the management, but nothing happened
- Sunil shinde, State president, Rashtriya Mazdoor Sangh