GUWAHATI, Aug 31 - As all hopes of any help from the government faded with sunset today, their faith on the goodness of the common man was, however, not drowned with a Samaritan coming forward to ease their hardships in these distressing times.
The contractual employees of Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok lost their jobs today as the shutters of the iconic hotel came down for the final time. The State government had refused to announce any compensatory package or relief for them, despite repeated fervent appeals by these employees.
However, moved by the plight of these employees, an industrialist today reached out to them, assuring of taking care of their wards� educational expenses for next three months and helping them find new jobs.
The unnamed Delhi-based industrialist was a regular at the hotel.
�He did not know it was the last day of the hotel. He had come here for some work. For several years now, whenever he came to Assam, he used to put up at our hotel. When he came to know that today was the last day of the hotel, he was saddened. He sympathised with the contractual staff,� a hotel staffer told The Assam Tribune.
The industrialist called all the contractual employees this morning and took the names of their school-going children. He said he would pay the educational expenses of the children for the next three months.
�He also took our CVs. He assured us that he would engage us elsewhere. We are very much hopeful,� the staffer added.
The Assam Tribune tried to contact the industrialist, but he requested anonymity.
Meanwhile, the hotel staff today lit candles in the evening on the hotel premises, marking the end of a journey of the iconic hotel that began in 1987. All the 48 contractual staff who would be jobless from tomorrow, attended work on the last day, besides the permanent employees.
�There was eerie silence since morning in the hotel. There were sad faces all around. This used to be our second home and we were like a family,� said a staffer of the hotel. �We tried our best so that the boys don�t lose their jobs after working for 10 to 15 years with the hotel. But it�s very unfortunate that the State government didn�t pay any heed to our prayers,� said PS Arora, who used to be a manager of the hotel.
The contractual staff had moved the High Court, alleging that the ATDC did not follow the procedures mandated under the Industrial Disputes Act for closure of an enterprise. Though no interim order was passed by the court, it would hear the matter again on September 4. The court had asked for a report from the government.
Senior ATDC officials today held a meeting with the 56 permanent staff and asked them to continue attending work though the hotel would not function from tomorrow. The permanent staff have been offered a severance package of 33 months� salary. Nothing has been offered to the contractual staff.
There are offices of four companies at the hotel and the ATDC is likely to allow them to function from the premises for some more time.
Over the years, several government agencies, private parties and individuals among others have not cleared hotel bills amounting to over Rs 4.5 crore. Sources said the ATDC management has begun the process of issuing notices to these agencies and individuals.
The hotel was a joint venture of the ITDC and Assam tourism department. It was taken over by the ATDC on July 1 last. The ATDC plans to construct a State guest house and convention centre at the site. There are two State guest houses in the city, one occupied by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and the other by his predecessor Tarun Gogoi.
Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok used to be the premier hotel of the city and the region before the arrival of Radisson Blu and Vivanta by Taj until a couple of years back.
The hotel played host to many of the guests and visitors in the city including Presidents, Prime Ministers and other dignitaries, besides international cricketers from different countries.