OLDEST GOLF CLUB PAYS PEANUTS TO STAFFERS
Decaying KGC greens expose underbelly of workforce plight
Rs2000 may be too little an amount for a family to relish Cappuccino with cookies at some plush hotel in this picturesque City in the Himalayas. But this is what the Kashmir Golf Club (GKC) pays to its staffers as monthly emoluments for serving the game of elite at this oldest club, established somewhere in the middle of 19th century.
HIS PLIGHT WITH THE ELITE
As for Shakir(name changed) in 20s, the sole bread earner of his family of seven including mother, four younger sisters and a mentally retarded brother, this is the total amount, which the entire family banks on.
Some three years back, this young man was given job at the KGC after the death of his father who died while in service at this yesteryear prestigious hangout.
Since then, however, his wages haven’t been improved, he says. But having no other options, he continued to work at the club, which pays seemingly the least as wages.
“Sometimes we have to sleep empty stomach to save food for the next day. This has been our plight since our father died on May 10, 2009,” the man recollects adding to avoid expenditure on bus fare, he mostly walks on foot to work and back home Bemina, a distance of 10 odd miles, everyday.
But while working to earn “peanuts”, Shakir’s mind remains stuck back home towards the family.
“My sisters are too young to work and mother often remains ill while the younger brother is mentally retarded… All this keeps haunting my mind as to what will be our future,” he confides.
OTHERS NO GOOD
Some 40 staffers are working with the KGC at various posts like caretaker, chef and gardener. But none of them is paid beyond `7000, they say.
Interestingly, the facilities like restaurant, which KGC has remained equally famous for, uncover the stench of alleged human resource violation.
For those acquainted with the KGC, hardly anyone must have missed to relish the popular mutton Kanti, the club served.
But if the young man who cleans the club floor gets Rs 2000 a month, the plight of his senior having dedicated a silver jubilee of life preparing the yummy Kanti as chef, is no better either.
“Even after 26 years of relentless service, I get mere Rs 6000 a month… From where will I manage money to marry my children or spare something for my old age days?” asks the old going club chef with salt-and-pepper beard.
PRESENT PROTESTS FUTURE BLEAK
The future of this private club workforce looks bleak. “Gratuity cases of most of those who retired, or died while in service are still pending,” the employees say adding that there was even “exploitation” in absorbing the next of the kin who died in service.
A poor widow from Nishat area who has been working at the club for the past around a decade says she is paid no more than `3000. This is all her family, including two daughters and a son are dependant on for the entire month.
“Our children have no future though we work with the club which hosts the elite,” the staffers say adding despite repeated appeals their demands of “decent livelihood were never met.”
But didn’t you approach any higher ups in the government? This query makes the employees emotional. “Yes we are grateful to people like Dr Farooq (Abdullah) Sahib, Nasir (Aslam Wani) Sahib and Farooq (Ahmed Shah) Sahib, who at least gave us a patient listening in the past few years, even if they couldn’t do anything,” the employees reply adding “Sometimes even mere words of consolation are worth millions.”
Amid this struggle for existence, the staffers under the banner of Kashmir Golf Club Employee Union have gone on indefinite strike since April 16, seeking an end to their miseries.
“Let they(KGC management) own us with good emoluments and assurance of gratuity benefits or decide our fate,” the protesters who spend their days staging Dharna at the club, opine.
But like dying KGC heritage, the ugly tales of workforce wages in this picturesque locale in the heels of Sulaiman hills, go equally unnoticed.
While the unattended greens spanning over 500 odd kanal of landscape dotted by Majestic Chinars, are being eaten away by neglect and weeds with each passing day, similar looks true for future of the club staffers.
Everyday, holding banners and placards, they assemble on the decaying greens to press for their demands, just next to the plush MA Road frequented by VIPs including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and the Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, who happen to the Honorary President and the Chairman of this club.
But the cry of mere 40 odd people presumably goes unheard in the noise of VIP cavalcades which blow deafening sirens as they zoom past this dying club, though a yesteryear unmistakable hangout, which has ruled the hearts of golfers for decades! (To be concluded)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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