Almost 19 years after starting his service as a temporary worker in Penden Cement Authority Limited (PCAL), 47-year-old Mani Kumar Rai is still waiting to get his service regularised.

The physically challenged man started as a departmental national workforce (DNWF) and rose to be an in-plant trainee (IPT).

The father of two earns Nu 6,450 a month and without regular service, he will not get any benefit when he retires.

Every morning, he comes to office on his wheelchair. Everyone in Gomtu knows his story.

He said that when the company’s human resource committee regularised employees in October 2009, he met the criteria of five years of continued service with the company but his service was not regularised.

Working at the company’s general store then, the store officer then recommended the management about his regularisation. He had scored best in skills, organising and planning ability, self-initiative, expression, sincerity and teamwork.

In 2012, Mani Kumar Rai appealed his grievance to the management. By then, all his colleagues’ service had been regularised.

Two years later, he appealed again. Nothing happened.

He said a glimmer of hope struck him in February 2015 when he was declared as an IPT.

Overwhelmed with the news, he said he distributed sweets to everyone because every IPT got their service regularised with the company after six months.

Sweating in the summer heat of Gomtu in his faded uniform, Mani Kumar Rai said luck did not favour him again.

He said he wonders why the company is not regularising his service. “Maybe because I am handicapped.”

Desperate to get his service regularised, Mani Kumar Rai also filed a complaint with the labour ministry in 2010.

A labour team from the regional office in Phuentsholing had also visited the PCAL and urged PCAL management to implement its internal service rules.

The internal service rules state that the service of employees who were recruited under DNWF and completed 180 days of continuous employment for more than a year should be regularised.

PCAL’s head for human resources (HR), Jigme Dorji, explained that Mani Kumar Rai had been raising this issue for the last six to seven years.

“He was purely engaged as a casual worker,” he said.

The past management, the HR head said, had offered Mani Kumar Rai the job on humanitarian grounds when his father, who was a PCAL employee, passed away.

He said that there are 10 other IPTs with PCAL today, who are also waiting to be regularised. One woman employee is also reported to have quit her job after she was not regularised for a long time.

One IPT Kuensel met, on the condition of anonymity, said the management had told it would advertise vacancies and conduct interviews. “They also collected the necessary documents,” he said. “Nothing happened after that.”

He said some of his juniors got regularised but he was not.

Claiming he has no negative records and worked hard for the last nine years, he said he is expecting the management to regularise his service soon.

Jigme Dorji said opportunities would be given through open selections when there are vacant posts. “We do understand their grievances,” he said.

He also said that PCAL has covered the IPT’s case under the revised HR manual. “About 90 percent of the manual is completed. The draft is submitted to the board ad-hoc committee for review.”

Meanwhile, PCAL employees said Mani Kumar Rai is hardworking.

Staff from the general store also collected fund to modify Mani Kumar Rai’s wheelchair from a hand-paddled wheelchair to a leg-paddling one, which they felt would ease the burden on his arms.

The wheelchair Mani Kumar Rai uses today was contributed by a non-governmental organisation called Lions Club in Birpara, India.

Rajesh Rai |Gomtu