BBMP has over 30,000 pourakarmikas of whom only around 4,000 are permanent staff.

Thousands of sanitation workers protest in Bengaluru demand permanent jobsAll photos by The News Minute
news Protests Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 16:38

Miffed with the state government for not keeping to their promises over 20,000 pourakarmikas (sanitation workers), majority of them women, gathered with their broomsticks to protest in Bengaluru’s Freedom Park on Thursday.

In March this year, the pourakarmikas had gathered outside the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on International Working Women’s Day to protest the exploitative working conditions under contractors. 

The protesting sanitation workers are once again demanding that the state government regularise their services.  According to the New Indian Express, BBMP has over 30,000 pourakarmikas of whom only around 4,000 are permanent staff. 

“Look at all the aged people, they've been working for more than 30 years, if you don't make them permanent, who will? If they didn't do their job and sweep the streets, people of Bangalore will be down with fever, dengue. If the city has progressed today, it's because of the work of corporation workers,” Narayan, Chairman of the Karnataka State Commission Safai Karamchari, said.

While permanent staff can avail benefits from the state government, the same is not offered to the contract staff workers. Contract workers work on all days of the week, including weekends and national holidays. They lack equipment to ensure safe handling of hazardous waste.

“It is the responsibility of the state government to make corporation workers permanent (from contractual employees) as they work for long hours. We are only asking one thing, make us permanent. There can’t be any compromise on that,” Narayan said.

On August 4, 2016, the Karnataka government had announced a pay hike for the pourakarmikas. The state government had promised to credit Rs 14,400 every month henceforth into their salary accounts. 

“It is only because of our struggles that now our salary is Rs 14,000 but this is too less. Nowhere, in the country is there such a low wage for civic workers,” he added.  

The protesters also threatened to intensify their protests further if the government does not meet their demands.

“We have not been paid for three months. We have also not been given our arrears. The chief minister had promised that our jobs will be made permanent, but that still has not happened,” said Dayananda, one of the protesting workers. 

The protesters have given an ultimatum of 15 days to the state government to come through with their promises. 

“We will eventually solve all their problems but the practicality of the situation should be taken into consideration. All the contractors and representatives will be called for series of meetings to come to a decision regarding their woes,” KJ George, Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning said. 

He added that they'll introduce a biometric system to identify workers employed by the BBMP and to keep records of how many hours workers have put in. 

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