Contract workers demanded equal pay for equal work besides demanding basic amenities like drinking water, toilets etc.

They clean our streets but havent been paid for months Bluru pourakarmikas threaten suicide
news Human Rights Thursday, August 03, 2017 - 17:18

Many of the civic workers, (pourakarmikas) engaged in keeping the streets of Bengaluru clean and garbage free have been working without pay for more than three months.

With their back against the wall, close to 2,000 such contract workers (mostly women) under the aegis of BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha staged a protest on Wednesday afternoon at the office of the Karnataka Labour Commissioner demanding equal pay for equal work.

Some of them even threatened suicide if their demands were not met within a week.

Moreover, these 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 directly.

This despite the state cabinet in 2016 declaring that all contract pourakarmikas will be regularised by March 2017.

Even in June 2017, the state government had promised to regularise all pourakarmikas in Karnataka. However, in actuality, only about 11,000 Pourakarmikas, with 5,500 of them being in Bengaluru were made part of the BBMP payrolls.

Alongside the demand for equal pay, the workers also demanded basic amenities like drinking water, toilets, and safety equipment.

Also read: ‘Regularise our services’: Thousands of pourakarmikas protest in Karnataka

The demonstration was withdrawn after Labour Commissioner Jannu told the protesters that the Labour Department has sought an explanation from the BBMP Commissioner regarding the delay of wages.

Other than the delay in payments and low wages, the workers face the threat of losing their livelihood with mechanisation of street sweeping.

In a press statement, President of the BBMP Pourakarmika Committee and a lawyer Clifton D’Rozario said, “It is beyond comprehension that contract Pourakarmikas have not been paid for the past three to five months, without any concern from the authorities. How do these Dalit workers pay their rents or their children’s fees?”.

He added, “It is also appalling that the Labour Department has not initiated appropriate action against the BBMP under the relevant labour laws for the non-payment of wages.”

General Secretary of the BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha, Nirmala said, “The struggle is going to escalate from now on. We will not only demand regular payment of wages and arrears, but also seek weekly-off, basic amenities. We will also demand the immediate abolition of contract system. The BBMP must pay workers directly and also make them permanent workers.”  

Also read: Bengaluru's garbage is piling up, let's talk about overworked and underpaid garbage collectors


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