Bangalore Turf Club is galloping towards financial ruin

If you are looking for a well-paying job, head straight to the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC). Here, an undergraduate stenographer takes home Rs 1.2 lakh a month, grass-cutters gets Rs 80,000 each, peons and attenders who move files and serve coffee are paid Rs 75,000, and 10-15 employees who suffer from various ailments including paralysis, kidney failure and arthritis, continue to be on the rolls, never mind medical examinations and reports certifying that they are not fit to work.

This apart, more than 20-25 employees, who had not furnished age proof at the date of appointment and have apparently crossed the retirement age (60), continue to be on the rolls, taking home hefty pay cheques. This is costing the club dear. The wages paid out by the club each year is Rs 38 crore (including the six peons who get Rs 75,000 per head per month and eight permanent grass-cutters who draw Rs 80,000 per head) against Rs 28 crore paid by the Hyderabad Race Club for the same number of employees. At a time when the premier horse-racing centre is facing a financial crisis, some would say that the executive committee needs to tighten its purse strings. But for more reasons than one, it has chosen to combat the problem with kid gloves. This – at a time when the club has no funds and is on the verge of bankruptcy – has dented the image of the club. The members are not impressed and are demanding an explanation.

For age proof

CEO Shiva Prasad revealed that the committee has asked employees, who have not furnished their age proof and claim that they are below the retirement age, to undergo age determination test at Victoria hospital. “It takes time and the moment we obtain the results we will retire the many who have crossed the age,” said Shiva Prasad.

He also said that the club has offered VRS to most but the employees have refused. “We need to clear out all the dead wood and the many who are certified unfit to work; but it is not easy. The club is studying labour laws and consulting top legal hawks to overcome the problem,” said Shiva Prasad. Asked what it was doing to tide over the financial crisis, Shiva Prasad said: “We have started to cut costs. And soon we will get the house in order.”

It takes time and the moment we obtain the results we will retire the many who have crossed the age limit… We need to clear out all the dead wood and the many who are certified unfit to work; but it is not easy said BTC CEO Shiva Prasad.

The club sacked a senior communications manager, Lokendra Babu, who had been working for three decades without a charge. But Babu approached the High Court with a writ petition and gained an interim order in his favour. The BTC had no option but to ask Babu to come back.

While Shiva Prasad advocated a big cut in salaries paid out to most, many pointed out that the CEO too drew a fancy sum and the cuts should begin there.

It is no secret that on the advice of the CEO, the committee decided to reduce the number of tote operators and stop dual payment for the daily wage workers when the club conducted off-course betting on two centres in a day.

A flash strike by the tote operators, who are paid a measly sum of Rs 500 per day, brought BTC down on its knees. The committee quickly struck a compromise but the daily wage employees not impressed have decided to strike work again at the start of the summer season unless the committee sticks to the old system.

“We are paid only Rs 500 a day and on an average one gets Rs 10,000 a month. They want to reduce our number. When they can afford to pay Rs 80,000 to grass-cutters and Rs 75,000 to peons and many others who are medically declared unfit to work, it is unfair to target us,” said a senior tote operator.



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