It has come to my notice through a news titled as ‘Servants of the People Society forces employees of Samaja into Hobson’s choice of hunger, serious threat to human rights: A case for OHRC to intervene’ by Sri Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, a senior journalist in www.orissamatters.com that, impediments are drawn to constitutional rights to life and dignity of hundreds of employees in a private sector by its management by way of an order in guise of ‘appeal’, only to realize individual choice of hunger in this pandemic situation. And, the content of the news item is self explanatory.
A New Delhi based society named as Servants of the People Society (in short SoPS) is having a branch in Orissa. This Society runs an Oriya daily newspaper named The Samaja and has engaged more than 300 employees. Now the employees are forced to make their individual choice of hunger out of the four traps laid down under one ‘APPEAL’ to help the management fight COVID-19.
This appeal is circulated by the Secretary of the same Servants of the People Society. Now employees are to accept any one of the four traps by exercising their respective “option” in order to evade a lay-off. They are to sign on these four declarations as per personal choice:
1. I would like to go on Lay-off for a period of 01 month/02 months
2. I will donate 30% of my net salary for one month
3. I will donate______% of my net salary for one month
4. I will donate Rs._____/- as lumpsum
The mega nuisance lies in two options in option No.1. An employee shall have to volunteer to embrace “lay-off” for either one month or two months. Naturally, no employee would prefer lay-off for two months if option for one month is available. This means, any employee, who prefers the first option, shall have to volunteer for lay-off for one month. More wicked are the traps 3 and 4 where an employee is to fill up the blanks, which would supposedly be more than what has been stipulated under trap 2. Trap 2 forces the employee to be denuded of 30% of his/her “net salary”.
From the instrument of exploitation styled APPEAL, it transpires that this offense is repeatedly perpetrated under colorable exercise of managerial powers. It admits that earlier the employees were laid-off “for months together” allowing themselves to thrive with half of their wages. It says, the SoPS has “not forgotten yet, the tears ebbing the eyes of the laid-off employees for months together with 50% salary, their helpless condition and miseries.” What a sadistic sympathy!
This instrument of exploitation further admits, “Even now, the full salary could not be paid”.
But, it says, Corona is forcing the organization to lay-off sign die if the employees do not allow themselves to be denuded of their purses.
SoPS has looted revenue worth thousands of crores of Rupees created by the employees of the Samaja. Crooks in the SoPS have kept this mega newspaper under their illegal occupancy by using a forged document purported to be the will of late & lamented Pundit Gopabandhu Das, a renowned freedom fighter and social worker. So there is no possibility of wealth famine in SoPS to pay the employees their due salary regularly. The “APPEAL” in question is, therefore, a cunning exploitation of COVID situation to loot even the revenue generators.
The design of exploitation is so very ruthless that, the employees have been asked to sign their declaration by 20th when the so-called APPEAL in English is issued on the 18th of this month and its Oriya version on the very next day. The Labor Laws having been clubbed into a conundrum, where the admittedly “helpless” employees of the Samaja would seek protection from this scheme of the crooks determined to whittle their earned wages?
It is a clear case of exercise of managerial powers to ruin the human rights of the employees of the Samaja by SoPS taking advantage of their “helpless condition” admitted even in the APPEAL in question. Therefore, this is a clear case of human rights violations.
The humble petitioner is a working journalist under the opposite party. He was the President of the Union of employees and has been victimized by the SoPS because of his trade union activities. He has raised an Industrial Dispute against this victimisation and is sure of winning the case. Therefore he has a stake in smooth running of this newspaper.
The SoPS is alleged to have kept the newspaper under its illegal occupation by using a forged will of Pt. Gopabandhu Das, remembered with reverence as the founder of the newspaper. The authentic evidences of this forgery brought out by ace journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak in Orissa’s most referred website orissamatters.com in competent continuous reports have been compiled in a book titled ‘The Samaja in maze of forgery’.
In an internal inquiry headed by Justice Arijit Passat, former Justice of the Supreme Court of India, massive mismanagement of the newspaper and swindling of its income have come out, even as it has been underlined that the SoPS is not the owner of this newspaper, which, in reality, belongs to the people of Odisha. Sad, the mismanagement continues.
A new step has been initiated by the SoPS that would further affect the work environment of the newspaper by playing havoc upon the living condition and human rights of the employees which would hamper it’s economy.
This petitioner has financial interest in this newspaper and concern for wage-right, which is a human right, of his co-workers. Therefore, this petition.
The SoPS is a national organization coming under the purview of this Hon’ble Commission.