Pourakarmikas had put forth a slew of demands when they had protested on February 25 in Bengaluru.

Pourakarmikas standing together outside a buildingRepresentative Image
news Workers Rights Saturday, March 13, 2021 - 12:09

National Commission for Safai Karamchari Chairperson Vekantesan on Friday met officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and discussed the issues of pourakarmikas working under the civic body’s payroll. The main focus of the meeting was to discuss the Karnataka government’s move to establish a company for solid waste management, providing housing and PF for those working in the sanitation department and timely payment of contractors.

Speaking after the meeting, BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said that in 2017, nearly 16,000 pourakarmikas were working on a contractual basis with the BBMP. The government said that it would now be looking into the payment of the pourakarmikas instead of contractors, to ensure that all workers are paid within the seventh day of the month.

On the establishment of a new company, the Commissioner said that the workers will not be affected, as around 17,000 pourakarmikas are now under the payroll of BBMP. He said that the state government took the decision of establishing the company only for collection of garbage. 

The meeting comes amid recent protests by pourakarmikas, who have said that they often don't get proper safety gear, and had demanded compensation for those who died on duty. They had also asked for housing and toilets at work places. The BBMP pourakarmika sangha on February 25 had staged a protest asking for minimum wages of Rs 30,000 for all workers. They also demanded that dignified working conditions should be made available for them apart from asking for housing and proper safety gear while working.

In response, the BBMP on Saturday said that they will ensure everyone is given PF and if there are any discrepancies, the PF Department will look into it. The Rajiv Gandhi Housing Board is constructing 1 lakh houses and giving preference to pourakarmikas who need to be accommodated, officials said. The Bengaluru Development Authority said that 264 houses would be given to pourakarmikas in the first phase of this programme, which is expected to begin next week.

The BBMP also said that Rs 10 lakh compensation will be paid to workers who lose their lives on the job. The Commissioner said that the government had already proposed to make pourakarmikas permanent employees and cap retirement at 55 years of age. Necessary steps have been taken to build restrooms near civic mastering centres and meals are being served, officials said.

Lastly, Venkatesan, President of the National Safai Karamchari Commission, said, “Our aim is to resolve the problems of the safai karamcharis. The issues that were not resolved at the local level would be discussed and resolved at the government level.”

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