Nearly 2 lakh workers of government-run public enterprises have lost their jobs since the Narendra Modi led BJP government took power in 2014. The total number of workers declined from about 12.9 lakh in 2014 to 10.9 lakh in 2018. Including the managerial and supervisory staff, the total number of employees has declined from around 16.9 lakh in 2014 to 14.7 lakh in 2018. That implies a total decline of 13% in the workforce in just 4 years.
Within this, the number of regular workers declined from 9.5 lakh in 2014 (March 31) to 7.1 lakh in 2018, as per the latest releases of PES. If you add to that, about 27,289 managerial and supervisory staff that was also made redundant, the total job loss in regular employment is about 2.6 lakh, or a whopping 19.5%.
Simultaneously, number of casual or daily wage workers went up from about 31,000 to over 40,000 while contract workers shot up from 3,08,719 to 3,38,494, between 2014 and 2018. In other words, about 40,000 casual / contract workers were added. The proportion of such employees as a percentage of the total workforce (regular + contract / casual workers) has gone up from 26.4% in 2014 to 34.7% in 2018. This is the period in which the government has given free rein to employers to hire and fire at will by allowing fixed term contract system in all industries.
This data emerges from the annual Public Enterprises Survey (PES) series, brought out by the Department of Public Enterprises.
Surveys have found that contract and casual workers are paid up to 50% less than the regular workers. They are also not given most of the other legal benefits that regular employees get. This leads to enormous “savings” for the employers.
While the greed of private employers to boost their profits at the cost of workers can well explain these predatory practices, it is bizarre that the government itself is adopting the same measures, in effect holding up these practices as exemplars for others.
Seen with the record-breaking disinvestment of public sector assets—amounting to over Rs 2 lakh crore during the Modi rule—the gutting of what was once India’s pride, the backbone of India’s industrial economy and self-reliance, is clear.
This is one of the key reasons why public sector workers are going on a two-day strike on 8–9 January 2018. The strike has been called by a joint platform of ten central trade unions and dozens of independent federations. One of the key demands of the 12-point demand charter is a stop to privatisation and sale of public sector, while another demand is for increasing employment opportunities.
Total Casual + Contract
Total Regular Workers
(1) as % of (3)
Total Managerial + Supervisory Staff
(All figures for March 31 of that year.)
(Source: Various PE Survey Reports, Department of Public Enterprises, Government of India, https://dpe.gov.in.)
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