From June 11, contract and outsourced municipal workers in Andhra Pradesh have been staging protest demonstrations and rallies across districts demanding regularisation of their jobs. While supporting the municipal workers’ protests, trade unions in the state have given a ‘Civil Disobedience, Non-cooperation’ strike call on July 3.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal workers including sanitation workers, underground drainage workers, sweepers, technicians and so on have been at the forefront in supporting the government for the containment of the virus, said K Uma Maheswara Rao, state general Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Municipal Workers and Employees Federation, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions. “Instead of claps and floral appreciations, we are demanding the government to regularise the contract and outsourced workers,” Rao told NewsClick, adding that the workers will intensify their protests and build it into a larger movement if their demands are not accepted.
“There are over 40,000 workers who will benefit with the regularisation of the jobs,” said Rao. He added that already seven municipal workers in Vijayawada district have been tested positive for COVID-19 and the number may only rise due to the relaxation of lockdown measures.
As on June 13 morning, the state reported 4,588 COVID-19 cases and 82 deaths. Of this, 2,641 patients have recovered.
Ten trade unions in the state including Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) have given a one day strike call for civil disobedience, non cooperation termed as ‘sahaya nirakarana, shasana ullangana’ on July 3.
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CITU on Saturday has sent strike notice to the Chief Minister, Municipal Minister and Labour Commissioner offices.
The demands made by the unions include full payment of salaries for the lockdown period, job guarantee, rejection of labour reforms and restoring of labour laws and life insurance to all healthcare volunteers and ASHA workers who are assisting in containment of COVID-19, among others.
According to Andhra Pradesh ASHA Workers’ Union General Secretary K Dana Lakshmi, 16 ASHA workers have died in the state since March 15 who were assisting in COVID-19 related duties. “Despite numerous representations to the state authorities by the union, the government is repeatedly sidelining the workers’ grievances,” she said.
“We are demanding the government to provide PPEs, sanitation kits to all ASHA workers who are working in containment zones and quarantine centres in order to reduce the coronavirus risk among ASHA workers,” said Dana Lakshmi. Further, she demanded the government to immediately provide an insurance amount of Rs 50 lakh to each of the deceased workers while increasing the insurance cover to all workers for another six months.