Saturday, 30 July 2011

Gangtok ropeway stalled

Agitated workers demand increment


GANGTOK, July 28: A favourite of tourists, the sole ropeway in Gangtok which takes commuters from Deorali to Tashiling Secretariat complex remained still today with its 21 workers going on an indefinite strike demanding salary increment.
            “We are working here since 2003 when this ropeway started its operations but our rights and demands have never been heard. We get increment in our monthly salaries every April but this time the increment has been marginal which will not allow us to take care of our families. We have submitted a memorandum to company for increment of at least Rs. 2000 for every employee and till our demand is fulfilled, the ropeway will not function”, said foreman Manik Shil to reporters on behalf of the agitating workers.
            Out of 21 employees hired to run the ropeway managed by Damodar Ropeway Company based at Kolkata, seven are locals. The salaries of the employees range between Rs. 3000 to Rs. 7000.
            “There should be desirable increment in our salaries. Our salary should be at least Rs. 5000 per month but here most of us are surviving on Rs. 3000 per month. We work even during festival holidays but we are not compensated enough to feed our family. We are ready to work hard and all we need is increment”, said the workers. The demand has been presented to the company management.
            It is not that the ropeway is not earning enough, as per the employees.
            The ropeway is much favoured by hundreds of tourists who visit Gangtok and most of the times; its capacity of 40 passengers per box is met. The tourists have a choice to board the ropeway either at Deorali, Namnang or near the Government Printing Press below Tashiling Secretariat.
             “We give more than Rs. 1.50 lakhs to the company daily from the three stations during the tourism season and even during the offseason, the day’s collection is around Rs. 20,000. Now there is good tourism even during offseason and the company is earning well but we the employees are facing hardships”, said the employees. They also alleged their overtime works are not been adequately compensated by the company.
            On the other hand, ropeway site in-charge DB Chowdhary said that he has forwarded the demands made by the employees to the company head-office at Kolkata. It is up to the head-office to decide on this, he said.
            It is informed that the Kolkata head-office has agreed to sit with the agitating employees for talks.
            The ropeway had been installed in 2003 with its construction works starting from 2000. It has been set up at a cost of Rs. 11.42 crores under the Department of North East Region funds.