Seven employees of State Trading Corporation of Bhutan Limited (STCBL) have told this paper that they have been sacked without any prior notice or a valid reason from their service in STCBL. The company, during the last week of April this year, served the dismissal orders to four female and three male employees citing the decision of the company board, and redundancy factor.
Of the seven employees affected, four were made to resign under the Early Retirement Scheme (ERS) and three had to take the compulsory retirement scheme (CRS).
The employees have alleged that such a decision to dismiss the few selected employees of the company must have come from the Managing Director due to a personal grudge he holds against them, and that the management committee had nothing to do with it.
According to one of the dismissed employee, who did not want to be named, the employees were called to the conference hall of the company to meet the managing director (MD) on 22nd April, only to be told that they were being fired from the company. The employee said they were forced to hand in their resignation letters as soon as possible. They were given two options, to take the ERS or the CRS. “We were forced to write a one line application and put up to our heads,” said an employee.
The terminated employees also told this paper that the MD has claimed in one of the papers that a few incompetent employees who chose to resign voluntarily were laid off, but this they said is not true as everyone was forced to leave the job either under ERS or CRS.
They added that it was difficult to decide on a course of action as they were shocked with such developments at work. “We did not accept it since it means losing our bread,” they said. The dismissed employee also said that the call to leave the company came when on leave. “I was in the hospital as my kid was not feeling well, and was in the queue when I got the call,” added the former employee.
“Managing director called up saying that I have to leave under ERS. We were told to write one-line application and fax it to head of HRAS or risk compulsory retirement. I was given two hours to do that, hence, I was left with no option than to write one-line application and fax it from the hospital,” added the terminated employee.
The dismissed employees claim that they have been in the company for last 13 years with clean service records. “We have served the STCBL for last many years under different managing directors, and we have worked under present managing director for last 4 and half years.” They further said that during the period they have not been reprimanded by any of the supervisors.
“No written warning has been issued in our name for any reasons.” Hence, they said they needed to know on what ground they have been dismissed. “If we were found to be unproductive then why was the management keeping silent for the 4 and half years?” They also said that it is the responsibility of the management to guide, reprimand, and increase the productivity of employees in the company, but till date no such action has been taken.
The employees insist such a decision has not come from the management committee, but they allege that it is a single-headed decision by the MD as the present management committee members are related to him. “So, we feel that they are one and any decision taken, there will have no proper arguments, justifications, etc.”
Further, they also accuse that head of HRAS of being very close to MD since he worked under MD during his tenure as general manager in Basochhu power station. He joined STCBL in April 2009. They have also been unable to approach the company secretary to file a petition for the fear of repercussions since the company secretary is the wife of the MD’s brother, and the brother is also the head of a section in the same company.
According to an anonymous source, the ex-employees were also warned against reporting such issues to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), and to the board of directors.
However, according to the MD of STCBL Dorji Namgay, the employees were laid off based on the company’s business ethics and the overall master plan. He added that with the issue of growing competition in the market, the management has opted to keep only those who are competent enough to contribute towards the company’s overall growth.
He said that seven employees were listed under ERS and CRS among which four of them were listed under ERS, and three were listed under CRS. The employees were notified about a month before asking for their application under the different resignation scheme.
The MD said that the resigning employees were asked to put up the application for ERS from 10th April till 22nd of this year, and it is when they did not turn up that the management board asked them to put up the application or else they will have to resign under CRS.
“I have two relatives working in the company, one is my brother in-law and other is my niece,” Dorji Namgay said.
Adding that the two were recruited after fulfilling all labour requirements, Further he said that the company fired the incompetent employees after taking care of their benefits and the company has plans to recruit the more qualified and competent employees.