‘Laid-off’ DND staff left in the lurch

Employees of the ITNL Toll Management Services, who have been “laid off” after toll collection was stopped on the DND Flyway, find themselves in a spot because they don’t have a job but are required to mark their attendance every day and hence can’t go looking for a new one unless they resign.

Harish Bhardwaj (54), a senior route patrolling officer (SRPO), who was among 142 DND flyway employees laid off on November 18, said he has nowhere to go. On December 27, he and the other laid-off employees got a letter saying that the (lay-off) order dated November 18 was being extended till further notice.

Subhash Sharma, another laid-off employee who was a maintenance supervisor, said, “The lay-off period has been extended further by an unspecified period of time. Our future is uncertain. All the other staff members of the company are getting full salaries while we are getting half salaries.”

While the chances of getting another job are nil for Bhardwaj, given his age, others are in a fix too because they don’t have a relieving letter from the company.

“I have been trying to get a job and I was also offered a job by my former employers. However, they require a relieving letter from ITNL to give me a job but I have been laid off, not relieved from my services,” said Ashok Dhyani, a former RPO.

Pointing out that only the maintenance staff, route patrolling officers, toll collectors, etc who earned around Rs 20,000 have been laid off with half salaries, Sharma said those in the management were still getting full salaries.

On October 26, the Allahabad high court scrapped toll fee on the 9.2-km, eight-lane DND flyway. Following the order, 142 workers of the DND flyway were “laid off” by the company without any intimation, following which they had approached the deputy labour commissioner (DLC) against the toll company.

B K Roy, the DLC, has sought a response from the company by January 4 asking it to explain why he should not order the payment of the remaining six-day salary to the 142 employees, which totals up to more than Rs 50,000.

The employees have now approached district magistrate N P Singh to mediate in the issue. “We met the DM on December 28 and he said that he was aware of the issue,” Dhyani said. Singh told TOI that he would direct the DLC to take a call in keeping with the prevailing labour laws.

Anwar Abbasi, spokesperson for DND, said the company has no intention of dismissing the laid-off employees. “Since the toll collection has been halted, we are unable to provide the full compensation to them,” he said.

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