‘Don’t fire us’: Scores of hospitality supervisors laid off by IRCTC demand jobs back

The contractors are asking to be kept on till things normalise, either by way of a pay cut or leave without pay.
Food being served on a Shatabdi train
Food being served on a Shatabdi train
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The contracts of hospitality supervisors who worked with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) across the country were terminated last Friday, at a time the hotel and tourism industry has come to a standstill.

Hospitality supervisors monitor the operations of the pantry car on trains. This includes monitoring the preparation of food, food quality inspection, passenger and complaint handling, pantry car maintenance and overseeing that the food is made according to the Railways menu, and that prices fixed by the Railways are charged.

IRCTC, in its termination letter, said that the position was reviewed and in the revised catering model “and decided that under present circumstances, services of Supervisor (Hospitality), engaged on contract basis are no more required.”

SV Arun, a hospitality supervisor with the South Zone (comprising Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka), says that those who were recruited in 2018 and 2019 on two-year contracts were laid off. Arun has been working as hospitality supervisor with the IRCTC since the 2018 intake. According to him, over 500 supervisors in hospitality have been laid off across the country, of which over 150 are from the south zone.

Arun says that even when the Shramik Special and other trains started, they continued to work, and then received their termination notice on June 26.

“At a time like this, if you terminate our employment, where will we go look for jobs? There are no vacancies. If you send us out at a time when things are so bad, how do we support our families? Our families will suffer,” he says.

Arun says that hospitality supervisors be kept on till things normalise, so that they can look for other jobs.

“We have nothing to survive on. We are not saying don’t terminate our contracts. Just do it once things begin going back to normal. Then, if you send us out with a month’s notice, we will be able to manage and support our families,” he urges.

Employees have written to the Chief Managing Director, and have been tweeting every day, but are yet to get any response.

In a letter written by employees to IRCTC, they said that they played a major role in increasing revenue and IRCTC’s impact “by glaring and perceptible improvements brought in by academically qualified, skilled and experienced Supervisors (Hospitality) at workplace which impacted long lasting and favourable IRCTC's business”.

“In the backdrop of such challenging situation amid Covid-19, PSU which is owned by Union Govt of India & State, become a role model to other private sectors by supporting the stability of economy and morality towards society by at least safeguarding the employment of their own establishment/organisation till Covid -19 neutralised,” the letter adds.

The letter details all the changes that hospitality supervisors have brought about on various routes, and said that these supervisors also took care of food service on Shramik special trains.

The letter asks that their pay be reduced by 5-15%, but they be kept on the rolls.

Additionally, they have asked to be reinstated when train services resume, and till then, they are ready to take leave without pay. 

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