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By Ikram Khan
Friday 12 Jan 2018
Ikram Khan

After the four-month long struggle to gain the licence to start racing operations last week, the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) needed to fight another battle to conduct off-course betting on Chennai and Mumbai races on Thursday, the tote operators deciding to go on a flash strike contesting that the BTC without any intimation had changed and altered the system, denying double wages for the daily wage staff who were listed to work at the tote counters.

More than 800 tote operators not impressed with the change in system wanted the club to revert to the old system failing which they decided not to operate at the tote counters.

The BTC shocked by the decision of tote operators pointed out that they had introduced a rotational policy for equal employment opportunity for race day staff. The mandarins of the club pointed out that due to the fact that there has been no racing- both on course and off-course since Sept 1, the daily wage employees have lost out on 10 Bangalore race days and 131 off-course days. Therefore the managing committee decided to accord equal employment opportunities to all race day staff. This in effect meant that on days BTC conducts off-course of two centres, like Chennai and Mumbai on Thursday, the club will employ a number who will work for Chennai off-course and for Mumbai, it will be a different set. The idea is to help most tote operators earn their daily wage rather than have the same people work on both off-course centre betting and claim double the wages.

K Uday Eswaran. Chairman of the Administration, Establishment  and HR said: ”It was done to help maximum number of operators seek wages rather than one set number gain double wages while the others lose out. We understand that the daily wage employees have been hit hard by the four-month close shop period and we from our end are only trying to see that a rotational policy  will help most earn the wages. But this apparently has not been appreciated simply because the leaders and advisors want only a favoured section to work on the dual betting days so that they can earn double wages, not bothered that the others will lose out on these days.”

It is learnt that a majority of the operators not impressed with the rotational policy chose to strike and with BTC sticking to its guns, the Chennai off-course betting was cancelled. The operators then decided to have another dialogue with the decision makers of the club, demanding that the club give it in writing that they will revert back to the old system before they start operating. BTC in no mood to honour the demand made it clear that the rotational policy designed to provide equal opportunities to all will stay and this caused a chaos with the tote operators demanding justice and pointing out that a couple of  senior members of the BTC abused and threatened them while the debate was on to seek a solution.

Well after a long debate and a couple of trainers and members of KROA playing peace makers, the tote operators decided to start work after the first race in Mumbai.