Two months after exposing illegal sale of liquor in Tamil Nadu post business hours, there has been no change on the ground. Liquor sales continue to soar despite prohibition in the state and customers lining up in front of shops even though shutters are down.
Despite the J. Jayalalithaa government’s claim of shutting 500 liquor shops, 6300 such shops still operational.
Even though there is a salary hike for staff at the government liquor stores, employees are still unhappy lot. They want more pay and permanent employment.
“So far no government-scale increments have been adopted here. We have protested many times. The government has not taken our demands into account. After increment of Rs 500 to our monthly salary, we are getting Rs 7,000. In Chennai’s cost of living, is Rs 7,000 enough for a family. Is it possible to take of educating children or taking care of older people. The government allots only Rs 300-400 every Budget,” said a TASMAC employee.
Defending its move, the state government has said that it’s running up losses of Rs 7 crore. A day after it shut 500 state-run liquor shops, the staff of the shops which are still open said they’re under pressure to secretly increase sales targets.
“Firstly, there is no drop in sales. Usually, the sales of a shut TASMAC outlet gets transferred to nearest open outlet. But some outlets see depressed business because sale of beer is a function of seasons. We are facing pressure from the establishment to bridge this sales gap. There are fines if targets are not met. Often, employees working in such outlets are summoned to explain why sales are getting less and less. This has led to some disgruntlement among employees.” an employee said.
With the government expected to shut more shops, TASMAC employees are well aware their days are numbered at the liquor retailer. They want a common entrance test to gain entry into other government departments- a demand the state govt is yet to respond to.