Hundreds of angry workers of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) protested outside the Labour Department office on Bannerghatta Road on Monday and threatened to sit on an indefinite strike.
The workers, mostly affiliated to the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), demanded minimum wages, equal pay for equal work and regularisation of their services by ending the contract system.
Protestors met with the Labour Commissioner and succeeded in making him issue a notice to the BWSSB.
However, workers are set to continue with the demonstrations till the matter reaches its logical conclusion.
One of the protestors, Adinarayana, said, “There is no job security. Plus, there is no safety. We don't have ESI (health insurance), PF (provident fund). We have held several protests and today was no different. We were protesting against disproportionate payments. Today at the protest, the authorities said we want time and we have decided to stay here until it is resolved. Let them take as long as they want.”
A meeting has been called on August 17 by the Labour Commissioner where the BWSSB and the contractors will explain their positions.
Clifton D Rozario, a member of the CPI-M (L) and a lawyer at the Karnataka High Court who is advocating the cause of the contract employees said, “They are getting salaries of Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000, much below the notified minimum wage. It is very difficult to survive on that. How are they supposed to live? Most of the protestors will stay here overnight. As far as minimum wage is concerned, we have done everything that we could have done but all of them yielded no result.”
Clifton told TNM that out of a total of 2,000 employees, 900 workers who were outsourced by the BWSSB are not being paid minimum wages, let alone the salaries that are paid to regular BWSSB employees. This is not the first time that the workers have staged a protest regarding the issue.
“We met the Labour Commissioner and we had a long discussion. We told him that we have three basic demands. One is, a large portion of the workers were hired on contract basis but they are not being paid minimum wages. The minimum wages should be disbursed to them immediately. Second, bonuses promised by the BWSSB have not been paid to the workers since 2016,” Clifton told TNM.
He added, “The law mandates there should be equal pay for equal work. BWSSB employees do the exact same work and get regular salaries, while the contract workers barely get minimum wages. These issues were already discussed with the previous Labour Commissioner in January and directions were issued to the BWSSB.”
Clifton said that even though directions were issued, there was no corresponding action from the BWSSB.