Explainer: Why are Hyderabad's municipal and sanitary workers on strike?
news Monday, July 13, 2015 - 05:30
Heaps of garbage have piled up on the roads of Hyderabad over the past eight days due to an indefinite strike by the Greater Hyderabad Municpal Corporation (GHMC) sanitary workers, leaving the city in a fix. Garbage bins have been overflowing in residential colonies, while stench spread on the streets in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, making life tough for residents and visitors. Why is the GHMC on strike? As many as 28,000 to 30,000 employees of the GHMC are currently on strike.This includes workers in each step from collecting the garbage to transporting it. However, this figure is just for Hyderabad. Throughout the state of Telangana, it is estimated that almost 70,000 people are on strike. Their chief demand is higher pay. At present, a GHMC contract employee is paid Rs 8,500 while permanent employees are paid Rs 9,500 per month. The employees now demand that this amount be hiked to Rs 14,170 for contract employees and Rs 17, 380 for permanent ones. Many unions including Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) and the Telangana unit of the Natioanl Trades Union Congress (NTUC) are at the forefront of the strike. Even the TRSKV which is the labour union affliated to the ruling TRS was part of the strike but withdrew after five days claiming that the State minister for home and labour Nayani Narasimha Reddy assured them that their needs would be met by the end of July. Besides a higher pay and better facilities, municipal employees in the state are also demanding better facilities like houses for them and issuance of health cards. They also demanded that disposal of the garbage should not be outsourced to a private agency.The workers had initially planned to go on strike from June 25 itself, but deferred the strike after an assurance by the government to look into our demands. What is the government doing? The TRS government has been holding talks with union leaders and GHMC commissioner Somesh Kumar for the past eight days in a bid to reach an amicable solution. However, the entire scenario has resulted in a deadlock with both parties failing to reach an agreement. The State Minorities Commission has also issued notices to the department of municipal administration and urban development and GHMC to intervene or make alternate arrangements to clear the garbage. For now, 4,000 private labourers have been hired and 830 sanitary vehicles have been deployed across the city but to no avail. Reports also suggest that a meeting took place on Monday between chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, GHMC commissioner Somesh Reddy, Telangana DGP Anurag Sharma and Home and labour minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy to discuss possible steps that could be taken. Consequences The main thoroughfares in the old city and many parts of the state capital are littered with heaps of stinking garbage. The timing of the strike only added to people's woes as the month of Ramzan sees heightened commercial activity, with more garbage and waste being generated, especially in the areas around Charminar. The situation around Charminar went downhill so quickly that the Hyderabad police had to step in with brooms and clean the entire place. Another dire consequence is that this strike has reversed the effect of the 'Swacch Hyderabad' program by the TRS government for which a lot of capital and effort was put. Hyderabad on an average generates 4,000 tonnes of garbage daily. Even if the government manages to dispose 2,000 tonnes a day with the private labourers, there is still 16,000 tonnes of garbage on the city's streets. This number is only piling up with each passing day. With inputs from IANS