8,000 Sanitation Workers in Patna on Strike for Higher pay and job Security
Representational image. |Image Courtesy: Patna Municipal Corporation
Patna: Amid increasing cases of dengue and viral fever in Bihar’s capital city, thousands of contractual sanitation workers of Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) went on an indefinite strike on Thursday (September 21) in support of their 35-point demands. Their demands include equal pay for equal work, regularisation of jobs, and an end to outsourcing work.
The protesting sanitation workers have threatened not to return to work until PMC authorities fulfil their demands.
After nearly 8,000 sanitation workers (safai karamcharis) went on strike, sanitation has come to a standstill in Patnam, and likely, dumping of garbage and filth all around the city during the ongoing monsoon season may result in unbearable stinking and risk of different communicable diseases spreading in the next twenty-four hours.
However, PMC authorities have imposed Section 144 in Mayurya Lok premises, its headquarters, and appealed to protesting sanitation workers to end their strike. The authorities also warned that FIRs will be lodged against those who will stage a protest on the premises.
PMC commissioner Animesh Kumar Parasar told the media that an alternative arrangement had been made for the cleanliness drive. PMC’s workers will visit door to door with a vehicle from tomorrow for garbage.
“We are demanding our rights; we are not committing any crime, but authorities are not ready to listen to us and are hell-bent on suppressing our protest. We want a minimum monthly wage of Rs 18,000 to 20,000 instead of Rs 8,000 to 10,000. Is it wrong to demand more for hard work?” Munna Kumar, a striking sanitation worker, told NewsClick.
Another protesting PMC sanitation worker, Radhey Shyam, said their monthly payment is a mere Rs 7000 to Rs 8000; it is difficult for them to manage a family when prices of foods have increased unprecedently.
“We are unable to fill the stomachs of our children, and it is out of the question to educate them. We have been working hours amid dirt and filth for the sake of our families, but the low payment results in a struggle for survival. This time, we will protest until the end," Shyam said.
Both Munna and Radhey said that hundreds of them have been working for the last ten years on a daily wage basis, hoping that the government will regularize their job. The sanitation workers said they were the real players behind the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but the government left them in the lurch.
Patna Nagar Nigam Karamchari Sangh’s leader Chandraprakash Singh said PMC authorities behaved in such a way that disappointed sanitation workers, who had to go on strike. "Sanitation workers have been forced to go on the indefinite strike and will continue until their demands are fulfilled,” he said.
Singh said the striking sanitation workers have been demanding equal pay for equal work, regularisation of their jobs, and reformation of the “anti-worker” policies of the corporation.
He said that the government has treated contractual sanitation workers differently from permanent workers despite both doing the same work.
Last year, sanitation workers of the 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. Despite repeated verbal assurances by top government officers, the Grade-4 daily wagers, including sanitation workers, went on strike twice and ended their protests following assurances. However, their demands have not been met.
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