Nine trans people hired to work at Kochi Metro in India have quit in their first week because they could not afford housing. Some were even denied a lease because they are trans.
They were nine of 21 people hired in a special quota program at Kochi Metro Rail (KMRL) in the south western state of Kerala. The program was the country’s first government-led initiative to employ trans people. The trans people were hired to work in the ticketing and cleaning departments starting on June 19.
But they were forced to quit because their salaries were not enough to pay for rent in a safe part of the city.
‘It is difficult for us to get an apartment for rent on our own,’ Raga Ranjini told Times of India.
A cleaning salary is Rs 9000 (USD139.50) per month while ticketing staff make about Rs 10,500 (USD162.80). Rent in Kochi can cost at least Rs11,000.
‘Though there are many vacant houses for rent, the owners refuse to hire it out to us. We’re forced to stay in lodges coughing up over Rs 600 per day. The problem of finding a shelter turned out to be an unexpected issue,’ Sheetal Shyam, a ticketing officer told the Deccan Chronicle.
The trans workers were recruited through the not-for-profit organization Kudumbasree. Many of Kochi Metro’s staff recruited through the Kudumbasree are provided with accommodation. But the trans workers did not qualify for the free accommodation.
Both are working on the same contract jobs and we can only take level-playing action,’ a senior KMRL official said.
‘Our Managing Director (Elias George) has spoken to the (district) collector (and Social Welfare Department). We’re also trying to arrange accommodation through private parties as well through the Social Welfare Department.’
But with the combined efforts of the KMRL and Kudumbashree temporary accommodation has been found for the nine workers.