*Demand masks, adequate wages
JAMMU, Apr 20: Drivers and loaders of Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs are working day and night to ensure proper supply of ration items like atta, rice and sugar to each and every corner of the Union Territory but the authorities concerned have failed to provide them masks and even adequate wages for which they are longing for a long time.
Most of the labourers who are working in the department as loaders are completely illiterate while drivers are educated to some extent but nobody bothers about their safety and they are being made to work without masks even when Government of India has made wearing of masks mandatory at public places and Government offices.
Talking to Excelsior, Sushil Kumar, a labourer working as a loader in Department of FCS&CA and engaged in unloading of a truck full of ration at FCS&CA office in Jammu, said, “My father gave 40 years of his life to this Department and now I am also working here for last 10 years but no wages were enhanced during this period”.
“I get Rs 250 per day as wage which is not sufficient in any way to meet my both ends meet, so I have to do labour work even outside the Department. Department has neither provided us face masks nor sanitizers though we are highly prone to COVID-19 infection as when everybody is staying home, we are out to ensure proper supply of ration,” he added.
Another labourer said that we are going through difficult times and everywhere there is panic of COVID-19. Our family members are also concerned for us and they request us not to go outside for work but taking our work as ‘pooja’ we are still out so that ration could reach to every person but our department has not even provided us masks to wear.
“We are paid Rs 2.26 as labour for loading or unloading a gunny bag while our counterparts in Food Corporation of India (FCI) are given Rs 11.26 for the same bag which is a big discrimination with us,” he said and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and LG of J&K GC Murmu to remove this discrimination. He further added that officers of the department are taking undue benefit of their illiteracy and always take them as granted.
Echoing similar demands, another labourer said that Government should enhance their labour as there is big difference between wages of FCI labourers and labourers of FCS&CA Department. For last several years, we are only getting false assurances of regularization of our services but now our hopes are dashing, he added.
“Keeping in our lives in our palms, we are busy in providing ration to people but there is nobody in our department as well as in the Government to listen to our woes,” he said and appealed the Government to provide them better perks, besides face masks to protect them from COVID-19.
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