The famous South Indian food based café chain, Indian Coffee House has finally started to recruit women staff in their outlets, after successfully serving the nation with all-men staff for 61 years. The decision was very much welcomed by everyone around.
The café chain is run by India Coffee Board Worker’s Co-operative Society Ltd. No.4227. It is a worker’s co-operative society set up in Trissur on 10 February 1958 by the then communist leader, A.K. Gopalan. Soon, the first Indian Coffee House outlet opened at Trissur on 8 March 1958. Currently, the society runs around 400 outlets across India with an all-men staff.
However, one incident triggered the authorities to let women partake in the noble deed of serving one of the best foods to the nation while earning a living.
One day 32-year-old Sheena, widowed wife of Her Late Husband, came to seek a job at India Coffee House. Her husband was also an employee of ICH and after him; Sheena was willing to take the job to sustain her & her family’s life.
However, initially, she was denied a job due to ICH’s policy of hiring only men. However, after declining the request of Sheena, authorities gave it a though & they rethought about hiring women.
Anil Kumar, one of the directors at the board, said that Sheena’s request for a job is what made them rethink about the idea of changing their hiring system.
He said, “When Sheena first approached us for the job, we had to decline her request because we hadn’t hired women up till now. However, later, industries secretary also happened to ask us about why we don’t hire women. That’s how we started moving in that direction. We are happy that revolutionary idea which began under the great communist leader AK Gopalan, included employees over 2,500 men, will now include women as employees too.”
As a result, 32-year-old Sheena and 24-year-old Sreekutty became two of the first 10 women employees at the Indian Coffee House. They are appointed at the Thiruvanthapuram’s MLA hostel complex. The board further aims to provide more job opportunities for women who are looking for a job.
Sheena is now a happy employee at ICH & enjoying her job will full dedication. In an interview with NDTV, she said, “I was aware that women are not hired here. My husband died, he was a cook at Indian Coffee House. Times have changed, and I believed that I will be able to get a job here. There were many union leaders, authorities who supported my cause. I have a 10-year-old child to feed and my mother-in-law to take care of.”
For 24-year-old Sreekutty said “I am happy that I have got this job. And even everyone around me at the work placement is supportive.” Sreekutty is a young beaming woman, whose Late husband also worked at ICH. She lost her husband 4 months ago.
The workers wear a striking white uniform with a red/green waistcoat and a distinctive cap. This has been the identity of servers at Indian Coffee House. Built on the concept of equality among workers, the café, recruits people as workers & eventually promotes them to managers & further higher posts as per their skills. Now, these women are going to become an equal stakeholder in the unique & renowned Kerala based restaurant chain.
“We are in probation. After we successfully finish the various tasks & training at cooking, serving, cleaning departments, we will be given the appropriate uniforms & a permanent job,” Sheena told NDTV News.
Initially, four women were hired by the Kannur section on probationer basis in early 2019. Further, 7 more women were hired recently. After the women have completed their learning regarding management, administration, food, hygiene, cleanliness and other methodologies of the ICH chain, they will be given permanent jobs.
The decision of hiring women employee was very much welcomed by many people including the existing all men-staff of ICH. The world is moving forward and gender equality is not a myth. We live in India where men and women work together, shoulder to shoulder.
Author: Keshav Kothari
A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.