Bengaluru: Kochi Metro has decided to provide accommodation and transportation to its much-publicized transgender hires, after a public outcry on the hardships faced by these hires despite the initiative. The matter was reported by Mint on Friday.
Ragaranjini, one of the hires, said they welcome the move. “Even those of us who have been thinking of quitting the job are planning to stay back now," she said.
One week into the job, several of the 23 transgenders hired by the Metro said, they had to go begging or seek sex work in order to make ends meet. Half of them had failed to turn up for work because they could not afford accommodation in Kochi.
The ground reality stood in sharp contrast to the optics surrounding the move, which had been widely lauded, including in the international press.
The employees, hired for work ranging from ticketing to maintenance, said that although an assured income makes life easier (the ticketing staff get about Rs10,000 a month and the housekeeping staff, about Rs9,000 in hand), it still won’t be enough for them, especially when it comes to accommodation.
Some of them were paying a steep price, about Rs600 per day, for a room on a terrace, as people were unwilling to rent to transgenders.
The story was followed by reports in regional news channels and minister for local self government K.T. Jaleel coming out with assurance of help on Saturday. He told reporters that he has spoken to the metro authorities to chalk out a plan to help the hires.
“We have decided to hold a meeting tomorrow (Monday). A private party has offered accommodation. Some facility can also be provided for their transportation," said Elias George, managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd, the agency tasked with building the metro.
“If we bend backwards on morale now, the momentum we brought forth will be lost. They might also not get other job opportunities," he said, over the phone from Kerala.