The number of casual workers and daily rated workers rose 178% and contractual workers and employees by 86% between 2015-16 and 2019-20. (Representative Image. Source: ShutterStock)
It is not just in the private sector where the casualisation of work has been on the rise, but also in the central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) over the last four years. The share of non-permanent workers and employees in CPSEs has rapidly increased since 2015-16. Documents published by the government show that they accounted for 37% of the manpower of CPSE in 2019-20 compared to 19% in 2015-16.
The number of casual workers and daily rated workers rose 178% and contractual workers and employees by 86% between 2015-16 and 2019-20 while the number of permanent workers and executives has shrunk by 25%. The number of regular employees of these CPSEs stood under 10 lakh at the close of the last financial year, compared to 12.34 lakh at the end of 2015-16. The number of CPSEs, including those under construction, has climbed from 327 to 366.
The Public Enterprises Survey for 2019-2020 released recently shows that 53,127 individuals were working as casual or daily rated workers as of 31 March 2020. In comparison, there were just 19,103 such workers at the end of March 2016. The number of contractual workers and employees had climbed to 4,98,807 from 2,67,929 during the same period.
VRS at play
The CPSEs have been downsizing the number of employees on their rolls by running voluntary retirement schemes since 1998. In all, nearly 6.30 lakh individuals, including a large number of clerical staff and others made redundant due to automation, opted for the VRS after it was introduced in October 1998.
Of these, about 2 lakh opted for the VRS after the scheme was modified in May 2000. Closure of sick enterprises would also have contributed to the reduction of the total number of employees in the central public sector enterprise. Yet, the compensation bill of regular staffers has continued to rise as the average emoluments grew. The average pay of a regular employee has climbed more than 40% since 2015-16.
The proportion of casual workers and contractual employees vary from sector to sector and enterprises within each of these sectors. The Public Enterprises Survey for 2019-2020 shows that the largest number of casual and contractual workers and employees to be engaged in the petroleum sector. Mining and engineering PSUs also have a large presence of casual and contractual workers and employees in their workforce.
Significantly, many of the PSUs that reported a large army of contractual workers and employees in 2019-20 didn’t have any or had very few in 2015-16. Among them is the Food Corporation of India, which had no contractual workers or employees then. ONGC didn’t report any casual or contractual hires at the end of March 2016 or March 2015.
However, 33% of its workforce at the end of March 2014 comprised of casual and contractual hires. At the Indian Oil Corporation, there were only 24 contractual hires in 2015-16. Most coal PSUs did not have any casual or contractual workers in their workforce in 2015-16.
Petroleum crude refiner and the largest oil marketing PSU Indian Oil Corporation had as many as 73,070 contractual workers and employees at the end of March 2020 – about 69% of its total manpower of 1.06 lakh. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation had 43,397 contractual workers and employees working for it; that’s about 81% of its total manpower of 52,108.
At Bharat Petroleum Corporation, a PSU that is set to be privatised, 72% or 28,923 out of the total manpower of 40,172 were on contract. About 36% of the manpower of 47,735 at ONGC were contractual workers and employees. Most contractual workers and employees of petroleum companies were deployed in field operations.
Coal miners hired a large number of casual and daily rated workers, in addition to contractual workers and employees. Among them, Mahanadi Coalfields reported 15,170 casual workers and 18,729 contractual staff in its total manpower of 55,890 at the end of March 2020. That’s about 61% of the workforce. Similarly, at Northern Coalfields 63% of the manpower were either casual or contractual.
At other mining companies such as Hindustan Copper, Indian Rare Earths, National Mineral Development Corporation and National Aluminium, 60%-74% of their manpower were contractual workers and employees.
At Food Corporation of India, 50% of the manpower were contractual workers and employees.
, 48% of its large workforce of 1.34 lakh were contractual workers and employees, as was 51% of the manpower at Rashtriya Ispat
. The proportion of the contractual workers reported by large engineering and equipment manufacturing PSUs such as BHEL
, Hindustan Aeronautics
was lower. The share of contractual workers and employees in the manpower of these enterprises was 28-39%.