India’s richest temple in Tirupati lays off 1300 contractual employees
India’s richest Hindu temple of Lord Venkateshwara in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district decided to let go off 1,300 contractual workers citing the suspension of work and inability to renew contracts during the ongoing nationwide lockdown.
The discontinuation of service was announced on Friday by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, the trust managing the temple.
The nationwide lockdown enforced to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic has resulted in several companies sacking their employees to reduce the overhead expenses.
The 1300 workers were employed in the sanitation and hospitality departments in the three guesthouses run by the temple trust – Vishnu Nivasam, Srinivasam and Madhavam – for several years.
“The contract entered into by the TTD with the manpower agency which supplied workers ended on April 30. Normally, fresh tenders would have been called by now for awarding of the contract to the agency which bids the lowest amount for manpower supply. Because of the lockdown, the TTD trust board could not meet and finalise the tender,” TTD official spokesman T Ravi told HT.
The board says since the last contract ended on April 30, the services of all the 1,300 contract workers were also terminated from May 1. “Everything was done as per the rules. Moreover, there is no work for these workers now, because of the lockdown, all guest houses are closed,” Ravi said.
It may be mentioned that the Union ministry of labour had issued an advisory before enforcing the lockdown on May 24, asking all employers not to terminate employees, particularly casual or contractual workers, and also not to reduce their wages.
The decision of the TTD came as a rude shock to the contractual employees, who gathered at the temple trust board’s head office in Tirupati to protest.
“It is not our fault that the lockdown was imposed. The TTD should continue with us on humanitarian grounds,” a woman refusing to identify herself, said.
TTD trust board chairman Y V Subba Reddy had a talk with the terminated employees and assured to look into the issue on humanitarian grounds. He told HT that the board would recommend to the prospective manpower agency to take the outgoing contract workers on rolls.
He said even the regular employees of TTD had no work since the lockdown was announced and only skeletal staff was attending to the essentials.
The famous Lord Venkateshwara temple in Tirumala is closed for pilgrims since March 20, but the daily rituals are going on as per the temple traditions.
Interestingly, the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh launched Andhra Pradesh Corporation for Outsourced Services (APCOS) in November last. It would act as a placement agency for the supply of manpower to various public and private sector companies.
The terminated outsourced workers of the TTD are planning to approach APCOS shortly, a senior employee in the TTD familiar with the development said.