Kochi Metro works to bridge transgender gap
Different path: Kochi Metro wants to send out the message that transgenders are welcome in corporate entities.
14 of them are among 618 women staff on the KMRL
The Kochi Metro has been a train to success for members of the transgender community and Kerala’s popular women’s self-help group Kudumbasree.
Kudumbasree had in early 2017 bagged a three-year contract to supply personnel to run and maintain Kochi Metro stations. A total of 618 personnel, including 14 members of the transgender (TG) community, are deployed across 16 metro stations and at the coach depot near Aluva.
The 17-month-old Metro system provided an ideal platform for mainstreaming the TG members, helping them take up jobs with visibility, though many are still disowned by their families.
“We are nowadays invited to attend weddings of Metro commuters whom we meet almost every day,” said Ragaranjini, a ticketing staffer at Maharaja’s College Ground station, who joined the workforce in June 2017, when the network was commissioned.
Pioneers on track
The 618 personnel were selected from among over 40,000 women and transgenders who appeared for a written test.
Those who had completed 10th std were posted on housekeeping duty, while graduates were posted at ticket counters.
The credit for recruiting 23 members of the community in June 2017 goes to Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), said to be the first government-owned company in India to formally appoint them.
“Life changed totally for the 23 of us. It meant more than a job. The community’s attitude towards us began to change. Both commuters and our co-workers are cooperative and helpful. I have not had a bad experience so far while on duty,” Ms. Ragaranjini said.
“This also was our first secure job. It proved that we too can do jobs that any other person does. With increasing acceptability, getting accommodation too became easier,” she said.
However, not all 23 have stayed on. Two of them left to pursue post-graduate courses and others quit citing ‘inadequate pay’.
After PF and other deductions, the 14 remaining transgender staff get a take-home salary of between ₹11,500 and ₹12,300.
Given the success of the initial recruitment, the MD of KMRL, A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, said that the agency intends to spread the word that transgenders are welcome in corporate entities. “We intend to enhance their scale of participation in other sectors of Metro-rail management as well — from manning the signal and telecommunication wing, to piloting trains,” he said.
“We might not be able to solve all their problems, but we can change the perception of society and bring about social inclusion,” Metro officials said.
Courtesy: The Hindu