After 20 Yrs, We at Bengaluru Public Library, Demand Minimum Wage

Still paid wages in cash through vouchers, Bengaluru public library workers demand minimum wage and regularisation.

Published16 Aug 2019, 10:55 AM IST
My Report
3 min read

Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Producer: Arpita Raj

“We joined as cleaning staff in the libraries and after being on the job for so many years, we learnt everything needed to run a library from the in-charges. Making book entries, magazine entries, issuing books, we do it all. I started working when the pay was just Rs 750 per month. We survived on that and continued in this job and now after 20 years, the pay is now Rs 6,500.”
KL Lankesh

They keep saying that there is no proof of our employment, but these vouchers are the very proof. This is the voucher, stamped and sealed by the permanent library staff, how is this not proof enough?

KL Lankesh, public library worker.
KL Lankesh, public library worker.
(Photo: The Quint)

We are finding it difficult to live in Bengaluru. Only the government can help us, reward us for our years of service. We picked up all the jobs needed to work here and have also started issuing books to registering magazine entries. We started out as cleaners, but now we are the ones running the library, from opening it in the morning to everything else. Despite this, the government has not been sympathetic. Even the deputy director and other concerned officials are turning a blind eye.

The chief librarian comes once a month to ensure that the library is open and functional. They just see that we are present, ask us to do our jobs and then leave.

Fighting It Out in The Labour Court

Ever since we have gone to court, they have now started saying that the only work we do is cleaning and that we are only there as support to the permanent staff. They have also started disallowing from working at the counters, or maintaining records. These are sudden instructions that are being given.

When the seniors have been on leave, I used to do all the work. And now suddenly, they are saying that we should not work at the counter but should only sweep and clean.

Staff Shortage

Since there is shortage of staff, they make us do all the work. From opening to cleaning, to maintenance to interacting with the public to issuing books, we do it all.

We clean up the whole place, arrange the racks, and prepare for the public to come. The permanent staff keep leaving the library for this work or the other, when they are gone, we are the ones to take care of everything since there is no staff.

We look after this place like it is our home. If we wanted to leave, we could have left long ago and joined some other work but we thought that there should be some compensation for serving so long.

Dr Satish Hosmani, director of the department for public libraries, acknowledged that there were 39 posts vacant but denied that the workers were effectively running the library.

“In certain places, they came for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening and that too, only to clean. Dusting the magazine, newspaper sections, cleaning work... that is all,” he said.

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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