But court says they are treated with ‘utter disregard for dignity of labour’
The Madras High Court on Friday agreed with a public interest litigant that domestic LPG cylinder delivery personnel cannot fleece customers by demanding a fixed amount of money towards tips. However, the court impressed upon the necessity for customers to reflect on the way in which delivery personnel were treated, with utter disregard for dignity of labour.
Closing the PIL petition after recording the submission of oil marketing companies that a complaint redressal mechanism was already in place, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy wrote: “While it is appreciated that customers may not be charged any additional money by the gas delivery personnel, it is also time for customers to reflect as to how such personnel are treated… Oftentimes, the cylinders have to be carried up the stairs or taken a substantial distance from the entrance to the residence. In peak summertime, it is back-breaking work, and the delivery personnel are scarcely stopped to be offered a glass of water or allowed to sit. The problem is in the Indian psyche and the complete lack of dignity for manual labour.”
Since oil marketing companies had clarified that it was the duty of delivery personnel to hand over the gas cylinders at appropriate locations and no extra charge had to be paid by a customer on such account, the judges said it was up to those companies to ensure that the personnel do not demand extra payment or threaten customers of not completing the delivery if such payment was not made.
“There will be the odd case where there will be an errant delivery personnel just as there will be customers who are difficult to handle. The court cannot issue a blanket order or set down any guidelines for, in effect, prohibiting a payment in the nature of a bribe or illegal gratification to be made or obtained,” the Bench observed before closing the PIL petition.
An association of the LPG cylinder delivery personnel, too, made an appearance before the court and complained that they had no option but to seek tips from customers because LPG dealers do not pay them proper wages.
The association insisted upon issuing a direction to oil companies to fix the wages to be paid to the deliverymen and ensure prompt payment.
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