CHENNAI: Complete operations of six metro stations — Annanagar Tower, Annanagar East, Shenoy Nagar, Pachaiyappa’s College, Kilpauk, and Nehru Park — have been handed over to contract workers. The work was hitherto handled by a permanent staff of Chennai Metro Rail.
On Saturday night, 250 permanent employees of metro rail received a circular saying that station controllers, ticketing staff and other staff of these six stations must hand over their duties to contract employees. Also, they were instructed to hand over the ticket money collected on Saturday to contract employees.
Permanent employees claim the safety of passengers is at risk as contract employees are untrained. “Earlier, contract employees were involved in track management and other secondary operations. But, now they will be working as station controllers which is a very crucial position. None of the contract staff has the training to handle adverse situations,” said a permanent employee on anonymity.
Permanent employees said this change has been slowly happening over the past few months. Part operations of Nandanam, Teynampet, OTA, and Saidapet stations were already handled by contract employees in the afternoon between 12 pm and 4 pm. “All technical glitches that took place in the past were due to contract employees handling operations. When a housekeeping staff was stuck in the lift a few months ago, the contract employee on duty could not open the lift and help her. Such incidents might increase now,” the employee said.
The two companies that provide contract employees are BVG India Ltd and KCIC.
“Out of 250 permanent employees, around 100 are station controllers. Of them, nearly 30 are deployed at these 10 stations. Now, they have been instructed to stay put at metro rail headquarters and if there is a problem they will go to the station to help the contract employees,” said another permanent employee.
A senior metro rail official said this was not a significant move that will affect any crucial part of operations as contract employees are being given some hands-on training. “Many are mistaking this to be a step towards privatisation. Permanent employees will not lose jobs and have been asked to offer guidance and help the contract workers when needed,” the official said.