Patna: Thousands of sanitation workers of all urban local bodies across Bihar went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday (September 7) in support of their 12-point demands, which include equal pay for equal work, regularisation of their jobs and an end to outsourcing work.
Sanitation has come to a standstill in all towns in Bihar with nearly 30,000 contractual fourth-grade employees. This includes safai karamcharis (sanitation workers), who have also joined the indefinite strike.
The call for the indefinite strike was given by Bihar Local Bodies Karamchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Morcha and Bihar Rajya Sthaniye Nikay Karamchari Mahasangh. Last month, both organisations had warned about a strike by sanitation workers across in early September if the government does not fulfill their long-pending demands.
Mahasangh leader Chandraprakash Singh said: "Sanitation workers of all urban local bodies, including Patna Municipal Corporation, joined indefinite strike following failure of talks with the government"
Singh said: "The state government and authorities of urban local bodies are responsible for problem of sanitation due to strike. Our intention is never to create trouble for common people but we were forced to go strike to put pressure on the government”.
In Patna, the impact of sanitation workers strike was quite visible. Door-to-door waste and garbage collection in residential localities, marketplaces and offices was affected. Heaps of garbage and filth stood uncleared.
Morcha leaders said hundreds of striking sanitation workers have been staging protests at PMC's headquarters.
The striking workers said the government was treating contractual sanitation workers different from permanent workers even though both were doing similar work. Currently, a contractual daily wager gets Rs 9,000/month, and an outsourced worker gets Rs 7,000/month. In comparison, a permanent worker gets Rs 30,000 per month and other benefits. Contractual sanitation workers should get at least Rs 18,000 per month as they have been working day and night to keep the city clean and clear.
The striking sanitation workers said hundreds of them have been working for the last 10 years on a daily wage basis, hoping that the government will regularise their job. The sanitation workers said that "they were the real players behind the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but the government left them in the lurch"
After the directives of the Urban Development Department (UDD), all district administrations have been providing police security to sanitation workers hired by urban local bodies amid apprehension of attack or assault by the striking workers. There were reports that angry workers on strike had chased away the administrative staff when they reached the office along with hired labourers to take auto-tippers for cleaning work on Wednesday night.
The UDD officials have appealed to the strikers to either end their strike and join work or face stern action.
On August 9, nearly 7,000 PMC sanitation workers, including 4,700 daily wagers and 2,300 outsourced workers, went on an indefinite strike. The protestors ended their strike on August 13.
Last year, sanitation workers of PMC protested against the state government's decision to remove them instead of regularising their jobs, which had been their demand for a long time. Grade-4 daily wagers, including sanitation workers, went on strike twice and ended their protests following verbal assurances by the top government officers. However, their demands have not been met.