Owing to an incentive system and the widely used proxy labour, lowly workers in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) are earning a handsome salary of up to Rs 4 lakh a month, more than double the pay its chairman-cum-managing director is getting.
Senior BJP leader and Kangra MP Shanta Kumar, also a former Union food and civil supplies minister, who has prepared a report on the restructuring of the FCI, wants that these labourers should be given voluntary retirement.
Loaders, who load and unload wheat, paddy and rice bags at different stages of movement of the foodgrain — from mandis to trucks, and from trucks to godowns — are considered the backbone of the central agency, which runs the Centre’s public distribution system.
“More than 300 loaders have received wages, including arrears, amounting to more than Rs 4 lakh in August last year.
The aberration must be checked,” says the report submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
The report says each loader, a permanent employee of the FCI, earns an average salary of Rs 79,500, equivalent to that of senior category-1 officers like assistant and deputy general managers. The report has recommended getting rid of these loaders, which number around 16,000 throughout the country.
The figures on the average earning of a loader are based on a data of payments made to them from April to November 2014. “The department labour should be given a suitable voluntary retirement scheme and gradually phased out,” recommends the report.
Reacting to the development, FCI general manager Aseem Chhabra said, “There are some depots in Maharashtra where their earnings are from Rs 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh every month. They earn in proportion to the work they do. They indulge in heavy work the entire day, lifting grain bags on their back and taking them from one place to another.”
Chhabra said many loaders earned meagre remuneration. The forced VRS might see opposition from the labourers as they dreaded the prospect of the report being implemented, he added.
The aberration, according to the report, has cropped up because of the incentive system in the notified depots and the widely used proxy labour.
“De-notify depots, hand them over to the states or the private sector, by fixing maximum limit on their incentive that does not allow them to work for more than 1.25 times the work agreed upon, mechanise depots and reduce reliance on departmental labour,” suggests the report.