Terminated contract workers numbering 92, half of them women, employed by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a mini ratna company, are on dharna at their New Delhi office, protesting against “their work being handed over to a private company.” They were served termination notices effective February 1.

“Some of these workers have served IRCTC for up to 12 years,” said Surjeet Shyamal, General Secretary, Delhi Offices & Establishment Employees Union’s IRCTC unit.

In a statement, the union also alleged that six women employees were terminated because they complained against the ban on use of washrooms between 10 am and 12 noon, for which a complaint had also been lodged with the Delhi Commission of Women.

Workers ‘outsourced’ Accusing the IRCTC management of keeping new recruits in the dark, Shyamal said suitable candidates are selected after the recruitment process, such as test, interview, document verification and medical examination etc., after which the management gives an appointment letter to a contractor, who acts as a “human resource supplier.”

He said although the services of the employees continue for years without a single day’s break, the management changes the contractor every three-four years, without employee consent. “But, these employees continue to be treated as “outsourced” instead of on contract and are paid minimum wages, irrespective of the length of their service,” he said.

However, an IRCTC spokesperson denied these allegations, saying these employees, who were on the payroll of an outsourced agency, were employed for handling call centre operations related to the problems in the website. Now, IRCTC has decided to hand this job over to Bharat-BPO, which handled train-related enquiries.

Regarding the complaint of “unfair” treatment, especially by women employees, the spokesperson said, “there is no such written proof, and we categorically deny such allegations.”

Meanwhile, some sources said IRCTC was trying to absorb some of these employees for various works, including handling of their Twitter account.