Metro employees dig in heels, dare BMRCL on ESMA

Metro employees dig in heels, dare BMRCL on ESMA

Namma Metro employees stuck to their decision to go on strike on March 22 unless the management decides to talk to them about the long-standing grievances and rejected the ESMA threat by stating that the move will only lead to contempt of the court.

Accompanied by their legal adviser D Leelakrishnan, members of the Bangalore Metro Railway Corporation Limited (BMRCL) Employees Union held a press conference on Friday and said the management's "high-handed attitude" has forced them to come to the media. About 150 employees gathered near the press club and shared their grievances with media persons.

Leelakrishnan, who is also the executive general secretary of INTUC, said BMRCL has time and again tried to suppress the employees by serving disciplinary notices. "There have been numerous violations of rules which have gone unquestioned. They have now sought exemption from Industrial Establishments Act to escape responsibility for their actions," he said.

Suryanarayana Murthy, vice president of the union, said the BMRCL has not notified service rules though metro has been operating for nearly 10 years. "They have also failed to follow the rules of recruitment by taking senior and retired officials from other organisations. So we have a situation where people a finance manager has been made the head of Human Resource department," he said.

Employees said those working on contract have been given more than one promotion in five years while those who joined BMRCL by writing competitive exams have been sidelined. "In all these years, the grievance redressal committee met us only once and gave us nothing. The committee itself comprises of management officials and doesn't have an employee. We have approached the management nearly 40 times but were given no hearing," they said.

Can metro invoke ESMA?

BMRCL on Thursday said it will invoke Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) to thwart a strike proposed by employees. However, the employees released a copy of an interim order passed by the High Court of Karnataka on November 7, 2017, to point out that such a move would be in contempt of the court.

Taking on record that only Parliament has the power to make laws regarding metro services as BMRCL is governed by the provisions of two central acts, the court has provided for an interim stay on the ESMA notification issued by the Urban Development Department in July last year.

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