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Delhi: Sanitation Workers in Burari Hospital on Indefinite Strike, Serious Allegations of Salary Delay, Sexual Harassment

The Safai Kamgar Union has also demanded the removal of the contract company Global Venture, suspension of all the accused officials, and ensuring the rights and interests of the staff.
Delhi: Sanitation Workers in Burari Hospital on Indefinite Strike, Serious Allegations of Salary Delay, Sexual Harassment

Image by Special arrangement

New Delhi: Delhi's Burari Government Hospital is once again in the headlines. Recently, outsourced female employees of the hospital had made serious allegations of sexual harassment against some officials. After this, an investigation committee was formed in this matter under the chairmanship of the Health Secretary.

Now, expressing their displeasure over the non-payment of salaries, the contractual sanitation workers of this hospital  stopped work from Tuesday, January 16, and started protesting. The employees allege that the administration is not only delaying the payment of salaries but their salaries are also being cut.

Recall that during the pandemic, in 2020, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had inaugurated this new 450-bed hospital in Burari, which was later expanded by 700 beds. At present, all the cleaning staff of this hospital are working on contract under “Global Venture” company and allege that they have not received their salary for the last one-and-a-half months.

Dalit Women Mostly Employed 

The workers sitting on strike told NewsClick that there were more than 100 sanitation workers  in the hospital. Most of the women are from the dalit community. Their earning here is the only means of livelihood and running their household. In such a situation, if the salary is not received on time, the financial condition of the house collapses, and even two meals a day are difficult. On top of that, they are harassed in different ways by the administration by actions like transfer, not giving them working days, etc.

The Safai Kamgar Union, an organisation that has been strongly raising the voice of these sanitation workers, has also, in its statement, accused the Burari administration and the contract company Global Venture of 'nexus' and said that they have been continuously ignoring the problems of these sanitation workers. The organisation has demanded the removal of Global Venture, suspension of all accused officials, and ensuring the rights and interests of the employees.

Harish Gautam, member of the executive committee of Safai Kamgar Union, told NewsClick that despite the cognisance of Delhi Government Health Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj, no positive action had been taken in this matter yet. The allegation of misbehaviour with the female contract workers working in the hospital is serious, but no concrete action is seen in this matter either. The condition of their houses is not good, and that is why, despite all the difficulties, they are forced to work here. In such a situation, it is the job of the government and administration to create favourable conditions for them, he said.

Salary Delays and Cuts Too

Many employees sitting on strike say that despite working in this hospital for a long time, they are still not even informed about their basic salary. Sometimes Rs 9,000 and sometimes Rs 10,000 were available in the initial days. Apart from this, the salary is currently around Rs 14,000, but they say that it is less than in other places and is not justified according to today's inflation.

Many employees are upset about being "harassed" by their supervisor. They allege they are always made to work by intimidation. "Even if someone raises his voice, he is threatened with transfer,' said a worker. There are many other problems for these employees, like holidays, working days and other facilities, but till now no one is paying attention to them because these employees have been struggling for a long time, sometimes due to delays in payment and sometimes due to misbehaviour with women employees.

It is worth noting that a First Information Report (FIR) has already been registered in the case of alleged sexual harassment in this hospital, but the female employees claim that the officers against whom the cases were registered  are "roaming free", while these women are forced to do their work in fear. "It is ironic that so much is happening in a government hospital in the capital, Delhi, and the administration remains a mute spectator. And this is why these employees are now forced to go on indefinite strike," said a worker.

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