Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), the oldest golf course in the world outside the British Isles, will reopen its gates on Wednesday after a five-month closure. An agreement between the club management and workers was inked on Tuesday, following a string of tripartite talks also involving the state labour department. But it will be some time before the course can be made playable.
The management had announced ‘suspension of operations’ at the 18, Golf Club Road premises for the first time in the club’s history on the midnight of April 29-30 after CEO M.M. Singh and golf course manager Lt. Col Saini (retd) were assaulted by staff on the premises.
“We are particularly happy with the acceptance of the staggered shifts and staggered off-days, which would lead to better governance at the club and help us serve members better,” RCGC captain Asit Luthra told Metro.
Earlier, the club would down shutters by 8 pm, but now members can be served dinner as the evening shift employees will stay on till 11 pm. The club, which had been incurring a loss of over Rs 8 lakh a month prior to the closure, is looking to leverage this to raise more money from food and beverage. “We need to explore every possible avenue to augment resources so that we don’t have to constantly erode our capital to maintain the course,” the captain added.
In its bid to cut costs and push productivity, the management has done away with the special medical benefit the staff enjoyed, over and above the mandatory ESI scheme, and slashed bonus from 14 per cent to 8.33 per cent. The number of holidays has also been brought down from 23 to 13 days a year. The club, which has found 53 takers for its VRS offer from among 176 workers, is confident the downsizing and the other “advantages” in the pact can help save around Rs 20 lakh per annum.
That and more will be needed to get the course in order. “We would know once we go in on Wednesday morning, but it could take anything between Rs 20 and 40 lakh and two to four weeks, depending on the sunshine and humidity,” explained Luthra.
RCGC members, who had been accommodated in various other city clubs during the closure, are keen to go back to their greens. “It’s great news that Royal is reopening. The committee has done a wonderful job of sorting out the problem of unproductive labour and I hope to be back at the course soon,” said playing member Vivek Jairath.