Employees of sewa kendras across the state are being forced to work for extra time from the set eight-hour limit in violation of labour laws, as for the past couple of days, the working hours have been extended by half an hour. Employees are asked to stay at work from 9:30am to 6 in the evening.
The staff were also annoyed with the six-day week, whereas there is an off at government departments on Saturday.
JatinderPal Singh, assistant labour commissioner (ALC), Patiala, said that as per law, the government has set up the mandatory time limit of eight hours for all working employees and labourers.
“During the eight-hour shift, the employer is also liable to provide a half-an-hour rest for lunch,” said the ALC.
As per the law, if any worker works beyond the set time limit of eight hours, the company is liable to pay overtime charges for the extra time.
“When we ask them to reduce working hours, the company officials threaten us to be fired from the job. The company issues all these types of illegal orders verbally,” said an employee.
He added, “Working of the kendras is attached with the government departments which are operational till 5 pm during a working day. Why should we sit for an extra hour, when all the concerned departments for the submission of applications were closed?”
There are around 2,100 sewa kendras operational in rural and urban areas across the state with the aim of providing government services at citizens’ doorsteps. The infrastructure of these kendras has been set up by the Punjab government and these are currently being run by a private outsourcing company, BLS International Private Limited. Along with around 80 services notified under the Right to Service Act of the state government, the kendras are also offering payment of bills like electricity bills.
Meanwhile, district manager (DM) of BLS, Surinder Singh, said that they have just implemented the orders of the higher officials issued from company’s head office.