MADURAI: There has been media coverage on the ill-effects of alcohol, but the plight of TASMAC employees goes unreported, rues W Shahjahan, supervisor of a TASMAC outlet in Madurai.
“In the past 14 years, most TASMAC employees across the State have become hooked to liquor and in Madurai, nearly 130 employees died due to addiction during this period,” claims Shahjahan, who runs a blog called TASMAC Seithigal (News) to inform people on the internal affairs of the corporation — which has 312 outlets in Madurai alone.
“Three employees were known to me. TASMAC management has not taken any steps to address this issue. Their only aim is to increase the liquor sales,” he alleges.
For instance, Senthil Kumar, a bull tamer from Alanganallur who participated in various Jallikattu competitions, became addicted to alcohol after he started working at TASMAC. He died at the age of 28 — and to add salt to the wound, he was just a week away from being a married man, says Shahjahan.
When TASMAC came into existence in 2003, nearly 36,000 people, particularly youth, joined the company. However, in 2013, it announced a bonus only for 26,104 of its employees. “What happened to the remaining 10,000 employees? Even if we consider that half the employees shifted to other jobs, we strongly suspect that nearly 5,000 employees died due to alcohol addiction. TASMAC should release a white paper on this,” he demands.
Explaining the factors that lead to alcohol addiction of employees, he says that there is constant pressure to push out more bottles. “Only if we work hard can we can make at least `200 per day,” he claims.
While the management pays a meager amount — `6,000 per month for supervisors and `3,500 each for sales jobs — they allow employees to sell liquor bottles for inflated prices to manage their daily family expenditure,” he says.
“But even this we can’t have for ourselves. We need to give a major portion of the amount to the district and regional manager every month.”
For instance, if TASMAC shops sell liquor for `50,000 each day, the employees need to pay `3,000 for the district manager every month and `1,000 for regional manager, he claims, adding “If we fail to pay this amount, they will dismiss us by pressing false charges.”
These pressures lead to the employees trying to escape the stress by drinking alcohol — as it is also within arm’s reach. “But slowly, it has become a habit for them,” points out Shahjahan, who remains exceptional by not drinking since he joined. People also refuse to get their family members married to the TASMAC employees. “This causes mental agony,” he says.
However, Shahjahan’s claims could not be confirmed as High-level TASMAC officials in Chennai were not available for comment on the issue despite repeated attempts to contact them.