The pourakarmikas in RR Nagar zone, Bengaluru on Monday staged a protest for their salaries, which have not been paid for over three months now.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) regularised the pourakarmikas (civil workers who collect waste) from January 2018, thereby eliminating the contract system. In the present system, the workers are paid directly by the government but payments have not been made for a long time now, leaving them with no option but to take to the streets.
BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha, an organisation working for workers’ rights and affiliated to AICCTU (All India Central Council of Trade Unions), organised this protest. Vinay, who works for this organisation, told TNM that, “The protest today was attended by the pourakarmikas from wards 40, 70 and 72 of the RR Nagar zone. The workers of these three wards are severely impacted due to non-payment of salaries and workers of other wards are also affected. There are a few thousand workers in this zone alone. BBMP today announced that for the month of December 2017, contractor has to pay but contractor is saying that BBMP has not paid him and he can pay only 70% of the amount. For the month of January 2018, old workers have been paid but BBMP doesn’t know when the new workers will be paid. For February, old workers will be paid by April 19 but BBMP has no idea when the new workers will be paid. For March, the head office of BBMP has not sanctioned the amount, so there is not clarity on when the old and new workers will be paid.”
From January 2018, the workers were supposed to be paid by the government directly. When Rahul Gandhi visited the pourakarmikas earlier this month, CM Siddaramaiah had said that the workers will be made permanent employees, thus getting benefits like paid leaves, sick leaves and ESI, but no progress has been made in this regard even after continued protests from the workers for a long time now. The workers have not been given basic equipments like hand-gloves, jackets, shoes even after repeated assurances and promises by different ministers and officials.
Mythreyi Ramesh, a lawyer advocating the cause of pourakarmikas, told TNM that, “Pourakarmikas around the city in all the zones are facing issues with their salaries. Auto-drivers, lorry drivers, who also work as civil workers in waste collection and management, are still under the old contract system and have not been paid for months.” On being asked about the future plans to get their demands met, she said, “We are planning something but the date is not fixed yet.”
Pourakarmikas across the city, tasked with the thankless job of keeping the city clean, are facing serious issues with regard to their health, hygiene and job security but their demands have fallen on deaf ears till now.