PUDUCHERRY: Apparently upset after not being paid salary for nine months, a daily rated employee of the Pondicherry Agro Services and Industrial Corporation (PASIC) attempted self immolation at his residence at Kottaimedu, Villianur on Saturday.
The victim, R Krishnamoorthy (42), who was working at the Mega Godown of the PSU, was admitted to the Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital and Post Graduate Institute (IGGGH&PGI) with 70 per cent burns. His condition was said to be critical.
Recently, Krishnamoorthy and his wife were allegedly involved in a quarrel owing to their inability to make both ends meet.
Krishnamoorthy doused himself with kerosene and set fire when his wife and son were away. Hearing his cries, those in the vicinity rushed him to the hospital.
Official sources said that soon after the incident, PASIC sanctioned the payment of 90 per cent of the salary due to him, which amounted to `41,000 and also handed over another `5,000 to cover medical expenses.
This was the second such incident reported in recent times. On October 29, 2011, the non-payment of salary dues led to the death of another PASIC employee, Sivaprakasam.
Sivaprakasam was reportedly frustrated as he could not pay rent for his house.
Around 500 of PASIC’s employees, both temporary and permanent, have not been given their salary for the past nine months, reliable sources revealed.
PASIC reportedly fell into rough weather in 2007-08. From that period to present, the PSU’s losses reportedly amounted to around `38 crore. Now, it has a share capital of only `15 crore, which is inadequate to run the PSU as well as pay salaries. At present, the salary burden for the past nine months has piled up to `12.47 crore, a source pointed out. The PSU, which was running at a profit till 2006-2007, subsequently ran into losses, reportedly after a significant increase in its salary burden following the recruitment of 1,032 additional workers.
These voucher-paid workers were hired although there was no requirement, it was alleged. Some of the daily rated employees were then regularised, while some of the voucher-paid staff were accorded daily wages, further adding to the salary burden. While the strength of the workforce of the PSU stood at 200-odd before 2008, this number has now touched 380. Though the ‘irregular’ appointments were subsequently cancelled following orders from the High Court, the damage was already done.
Welfare measures for farmers that were subsequently introduced further compounded PASIC’s financial trouble. Besides, the government assurance to grant additional funding to the PSU through the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations, failed to materialise. Through a GO issued in 2008, the government, while directing the PSUs and similar organisations to implement the recommendation, assured that it would bear 80 per cent of the financial burden thus incurred. However, the government itself has now been hit by a fund crunch.