During 21-23 January 2014 the Employees Coordination Committee, which is an association body of the workers and officials employed in the various Haryana state government-owned entities had struck work for a period of 72 hours. There were lakhs of people who had taken part in the hartaal from various bodies, universities, boards, municipal bodies and corporations. The Sarva Karmachari Sangh (SKS) of Haryana has been a leading body in the state when it comes to majority of the employees associations and unions in Haryana. It had participated in the bandh as well.
The main issues of this protest were the various anti-employee policies being followed by the state government and outsourcing was one of them. There were other problems on the anvil such as formation of partnerships with private entities, setting up franchises, and following the policy of contracting employees in various departments instead of appointing them on the payroll. Not surprisingly, the government was also being accused of showing absolute indifference to the demands and movements of the employees. Previously too, the CM in such situations had assured the SKS leaders that their grievances would be addressed but the follow-up never came.
At a very basic level what could be the reason for outsourcing government jobs? Well, to start with, all across the country the government officials are regarded as the most incompetent and corrupt species that only do their work properly if they are paid extra money for the same. Now, on the face of it the government may say that it is in favour of outsourcing so as to make the processes smoother and better from the point of view of everyone concerned. However, the question that comes up in this regard is that is it the only reason why such changes are being brought about?
One of the major problems facing Indian economy as such is the process of casualisation of labour and it seems that perhaps the Haryana government is no exception to this either. The biggest benefit it would derive from outsourcing work is that soon it would be able to perform all the major tasks with outside entities and pay what they demand. However, if the same work were to be done by government entities taking into consideration the possibility that they shall work efficiently there could be a question of additional costs incurred by way of extra time and others.
Once this culture of outsourcing is established then there would be lesser need to employ people at the executive level. This would also reduce the governmental expenses in half. With such a situation there would also be greater uncertainty with the remaining employees. All these factors are perhaps the biggest bones of contention between the combatants. The problem is not with the step but rather the intent behind the same. If the government really wants to make sure that it functions like well-oiled machines it needs to evaluate its workers properly and also revisit its recruitment systems privatisation and casualisation may not be the way ahead.