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Bihar Sanitation Workers Strike Enters 4th day as Garbage Piles up

The workers are demanding equal pay for equal work, regularisation of jobs and an end to outsourcing.

Representational use only.Image Courtesy: ANI

Patna: The indefinite strike called by thousands of sanitation workers of urban local bodies across Bihar entered the fourth day on Tuesday. The workers, mostly contractual fourth-grade employees, are demanding equal pay for equal work, regularisation of jobs and an end to outsourcing.

As per reports, sanitation has come to a standstill in all towns with nearly 40,000 contractual workers, including sanitation workers, on strike. Garbage had piled up around residential areas and markets, roads are dirty and fogging has discontinued in major cities like Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur and Bhagalpur.

Ignoring the Patna Municipal Corporation’s warning of action, the protesting workers are adamant not to end the strike until the state government assures them in writing of fulfilling their long-pending demands.

The call for the strike was given by the Bihar Local Bodies Karamchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Morcha and the Bihar Rajya Sthaniye Nikay Karamchari Mahasangh. Early this month, both organisations had warned of a strike by sanitation workers from August 27 if the government does not fulfil their demands.

Mahasangh leader Chandraprakash Singh said that the primary demands are regularisation of contractual sanitation workers, equal pay for equal work, pension for permanent Group D employees and employment of family members of deceased workers on compassionate ground. “Privatisation of all urban local bodies should be stopped,” he told NewsClick.

Singh added that the workers have been protested since last year. “Sanitation workers were forced to go on strike to put pressure on the government because urban local bodies are responsible for these problems. The strike will continue till contractual workers are regularised and the other demands are fulfilled.”

The striking workers alleged that the state government treats contractual and permanent workers differently even though both do similar work. A contractual worker is paid Rs 10,000 month and an outsourced worker Rs 7,000 but a permanent worker gets Rs 40,000 per month and other benefits, they said. They demanded that contractual workers should be paid, at least, Rs 18,000.

The workers added that hundreds of them have been working for the last 10 years hoping that they would be regularised and claimed to be the “real players behind the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan but the government left them in the lurch”. They demanded ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav’s intervention to look into their “genuine” demands.

Following the directives of the Urban Development Department (UDD), police security has been provided to sanitation workers hired by urban local bodies in all districts amid apprehension of attacks by the striking workers. UDD officials have warned the workers of stern action if they don’t resume work.

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