For many months now, thousands of pourakarmikas (contract workers employed by civic authorities) have been fighting to get their contracts regularized by the government. Instead of helping them, a few contractors in Bengaluru allegedly made them sign on blank papers, promising regularisation. But in reality, it seems to have been trap. Many pourakarmikas have come forward alleging that the letters stated that they wanted to remain in the present contract system.
Koramangala police are conducting an enquiry based on a complaint by BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha against a contractor. The first such incident was reported in Ward no 15 in Koramangala.
“Even when the pourakarmika workers demanded that the letter be revoked, as they do not consent to its contents, the mesthris (contractors) verbally abused the workers and made several threats, including that of removing them from their jobs,” a statement released by the union said.
“The Union started receiving multiple phone calls stating that similar incidents were happening in their wards as well. This shows that it is a concerted effort from all BBMP SWM Contractors to get the government to backtrack on its order stating direct-payment of wages for the workers. This amounts to cheating and fraud, as well as offences under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989,” the statement added.
Speaking on the issue, Maitreyi Krishnan, a lawyer advocating the union’s cause said that in other parts of the city, workers were made to sign blank papers in the promise of ESI cards and other facilities.
A formal complaint with the BBMP was also registered by the union on the same issue.
The longstanding demand of civic workers engaged in keeping the streets of Bengaluru clean and garbage free in Bengaluru have been that the state government must regularise their services.
Following multiple protests and demonstrations, the state government in 2016, had declared that all pourakarmikas will be brought under the government payroll within March 2017.
Contract employees have close to one-third of the salary on paper when compared to their peers who have been appointed by the civic body (BBMP) directly.
As of June 2017, only 5,500 out of 20,000 plus were made part of the BBMP payrolls.
Other than the low wages, pourakarmikas are often made to work unpaid.