COIMBATORE: After a two-year gap, the famous Ooty flower show is scheduled to take place from May 20, and will attract tourists from all over the world. Ahead of the event, gardeners employed in State-owned horticulture gardens have appealed to the State government to increase their salary and provide them with other benefits.
According to sources, a total of 660 gardeners were appointed in 54 farms and parks across the State under Tamil Nadu Horticulture Development Agency (TANHODA) in April 14, 2021 at a consolidated pay of `11,773, without benefits like PF and insurance.
Representatives of Nilgiri Mavatta Thottkalai Tholilalarkal Munnetra Sangam, which is affiliated to the LPF, said the government should list them under regular pay from changing the existing special pay, and give them all benefits government employees are entitled to.
R Ramesh Kumar, district president of the association, said "Dignitaries including the President, Governor or Chief Minister, who visit the GBG, appreciate us for the neatly pruned and well-maintained garden. The credit goes to the gardeners, but their lives have not blossomed and their grievances remain unaddressed.
Out of 660, more than 400 staff are working in GBG, which is spread across 22 hectares, Government Rose Garden (GRG) and Sims Park. The government is paying us salary on par with noon meal staff who are part-time workers. We work eight hours from 9am to 5pm. After 27 years of wait, I got the job under Tamil Nadu Horticulture Development Agency (TANHODA). But the salary is a few hundred less than what I was earning as a temporary worker before. At this salary, I could not afford to meet my son's higher education and feel guilty I was not able to pay `five lakh to enroll him in an aeronautical course."
R Shivakumar, general secretary of the association, said gardeners do not have more happy moments to cherish more than the shawls they receive from colleagues on their last day of service. "We have raised the issue of PF and insurance with R. Brindha Devi, Director of Horticulture Department during her recent visit to the GBG. She worried that we had only weekly offs and assured to take steps to get other benefits."
A Shivasankar Joint secretary, said "When compared to others, gardeners working in the plains get salary of around `9,000. Agriculture minister MRK Pannerselvam and Agriculture Commissioner C. Samayamoorthy are aware of the issue. We hope the government would consider our demand. "
Minister Pannerselvam and Agriculture Commissioner Samayamoorthy were not available for comment.