Express press service
COIMBATORE: After a two-year hiatus, the famous Ooty Flower Show is set to take place from May 20 and will attract tourists from around the world. Prior to the event, gardeners employed in state-owned horticultural gardens petitioned the state government to raise their salaries and provide them with other benefits.
According to sources, a total of 660 gardeners were appointed in 54 farms and parks across the state under the Tamil Nadu Horticulture Development Agency (TANHODA) on April 14, 2021 for a consolidated salary of `11,773 , without benefits like PF and insurance.
Representatives of Nilgiri Mavatta Thottkalai Tholilalarkal Munnetra Sangam, which is affiliated with the LPF, said the government should list them under the regular pay by modifying the existing special pay and grant them all the benefits to which government employees are entitled.
R Ramesh Kumar, District Chairman of the association, said “Dignitaries including the President, Governor or Chief Minister who visit GBG appreciate us for the neatly trimmed and well maintained garden. Credit goes to to the gardeners, but their lives have not blossomed and their grievances go unanswered.
Out of 660, more than 400 employees work at GBG, which spans 22 hectares, Government Rose Garden (GRG) and Sims Park. The government pays us a salary equal to that of the lunch staff who work part-time. We work eight hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After 27 years of waiting, I got the job from Tamil Nadu Horticulture Development Agency (TANHODA). But the salary is a few hundred less than what I used to earn as a temp. With this salary, I couldn’t afford to cater for my son’s higher education and I feel guilty that I can’t pay ‘five lakh to enroll him in an aeronautical course.’
R Shivakumar, general secretary of the association, said gardeners have no more happy moments to cherish than the shawls they receive from their colleagues on their last day of service. “We raised the issue of PF and insurance with R. Brindha Devi, Director of Horticulture Department during her recent visit to GBG. She was concerned that we only have weekly holidays and said assured to take steps to obtain further benefits.”
A co-secretary of Shivasankar, said: “Compared to others, gardeners working in the plains receive a salary of around 9,000 `. Agriculture Minister MRK Pannerselvam and Agriculture Commissioner C. Samayamoorthy are aware of the problem. We hope the government will consider our request.”
Minister Pannerselvam and Agriculture Commissioner Samayamoorthy were unavailable for comment.