Non-payment of salaries to lakhs of staff in government-run companies have highlighted disastrous economic policies of the Centre’s Narendra Modi government, which has been facing flak for splashing public money on personal advertisement.
Last week, it emerged that around 100 employees of the newly inaugurated Statue of Unity had complained of not receiving their salaries for the last three months. Arun Mehta from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in Gujarat, had told the Newsclick website, “The workers are employed under a private company, which was to be given grants by the state government. The pending wages include about Rs. 8,000-10,000 per month and some supervisors whose salaries are amounting to Rs. 14,000 and perhaps more.
“These workers have not been paid for the past approximately four months. Currently, they are resorting to demonstrations and they even formed a human chain to draw the attention of the government. They cannot resort to any aggressive protests, given the fact they are contractual workers.”
This, despite government claims in the parliament that the tourism from the Statue of Unity had generated a revenue of nearly Rs 20 crore between November 2018 and January 2018.
Non-payment of salaries has also affected over 1.6 lakh employees of the state-owned BSNL. On Wednesday, a video of a wailing woman employee had gone viral on social media, evoking heavy criticism for the central government.
प्रधानमंत्री @NarendraModi जी, ये @BSNLCorporate की कर्मचारी है, इनकी पीड़ा सुनिए. वेतन नहीं मिलने से BSNL के कर्मचारी भारी मुसीबत में आ गए हैं. निजी मोबाइल कंपनियों का प्रचार जरूर करें, लेकिन सरकारी कंपनियों को खत्म न करें.
कृपया, @RSPrasad भी ध्यान दें#BSNL#बीएसएनएल pic.twitter.com/VxyssKlp1e
— Suraj Singh (@SurajSolanki) March 13, 2019
Faced with growing condemnation, the Modi government has now said that the BSNL could use its internal accruals to clear salary dues of around Rs 850 crore by 20 March. Non-payment of salaries adversely affected the staff of another state-run telecom operator MTNL, where nearly 22,000 workers complained that they had not received their February salary yet.
However, the government has now released pending dues of Rs 171 crore, paving the way for their salaries to be paid. This was after MTNL Executives’ Association President JJ Mathias had told The Hindu that their December salary was paid on 5 on January, while the January salary was credited on 21 February.
Last month, a report by The Week said that another government-run company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had to borrow Rs 1,000 crores during the last quarter to pay the salaries of its employees.
The distress caused to lakhs of salaried employees in government companies due to non-payment of salaries is in sharp contrast to the money that the government has been splashing on the foreign trips of Prime Minister Modi and the publicity drive. In December, Janta Ka Reporter, had reported how Indian tax payers had paid Rs 7,266.94 crore for Modi’s foreign trips and his publicity drive since 2014.