THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rs 1,100 monthly remuneration for a full-time job! Seems unbelievable, but walk into a taluk reference library under the State Library Council.
The librarians of the 63 taluk reference libraries in the state are paid this meagre amount as monthly honorarium for their seven-hour work on six days a week.
‘’We are not even paid the minimum wages. Since this a full-time job, we can’t make money from any other source,’’ says James Joseph of the reference library in Udumbanchola taluk, Idukki.
The Library Council had launched the taluk reference library scheme in 2002 following the recommendation of the eleventh Finance Commission. As per this, one library was selected from each taluk and upgraded as reference libraries.
The librarians were appointed by the respective libraries as per the Council guidelines.
The eligibility criterion was a certificate course in library science or computer cataloguing and classification course.
‘’The reference library project is a five-year scheme in which the librarians are engaged as voluntary workers who could be paid an allowance,’’ says Council secretary A K Chandran.
‘’The allowance is paid from the Council fund as the scheme fund cannot be used for paying salary or other allowances,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, the Labour Department officials said they cannot get involved in the issue.
‘’We cannot take action in such cases since they are doing voluntary service as per records. Their allowance cannot be considered as wages and hence the rules of violation of minimum wages are not applicable,’’ said Labour Commissioner T T Antony.
Though, according to the Council, they are voluntary service providers, the librarians, mostly youth, say they are executing a full-time job on six days a week.
‘’Many of us have spent a good part of our career in this job. We hope the Council would one day recognise our service,’’ says Shajan, librarian of the reference library in the Thiruvananthapuram taluk.