Under the banner of Sarva Karmachari Sangh, more than 30,000 workers from at least 87 municipal corporations, committees and councils, have been on strike since May 9. On Monday, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), released a press statement, congratulating the municipal workers of Haryana for their successful strike action.
Initially, the strike was intended to last three days, but due to the anti-worker stance of the Haryana government, the workers decided to extend the strike till May 14.
“The government is not listening and the ministers, who are elected public representatives, are not willing to talk to us. We have taken a decision to extend the strike till May 14, but if the government does not engage in talks with us, we will be forced to extend the strike indefinitely," Subhash Lamba, the general secretary of Sarva Karmachari Sangh was quoted as saying on Friday.
The main demands of the striking workers, the majority of whom are women, include – regularisation for nearly 20,000 contractual employees and equal pay for equal work to these workers, a hike in the minimum pay of safai karmacharis (manual scavengers) from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per month, provision of medical facilities for contractual employees, increasing the allowances of both the permanent and contractual employee and risk allowance and better safety equipment for those engaged in the cleaning of sewers.
Meanwhile, Haryana’s Urban Local Bodies minister Kavita Jain, on Monday, claimed that most of the demands of the striking workers had already been met by the state government and urged the workers to resume work.
"The demand of regularisation of contractual employees of the municipality in urban areas of Haryana is unjustified as the court has put a stay on regularisation of employees under various policies since 2016," she said.
But the workers have refused to go back work until their demands have been met with.
On May 10, 75 night workers joined the municipal workers in their strike. Though they get paid double of what the non-contractual workers get, the night workers said that it was necessary for the whole community to stand united against the government
“We have extended our support to the strike and we will not work until the salaries of workers are raised and they are made permanent,” said Vinod Kumar, a night worker was quoted in a report.
Since the night workers have joined the strike, many localities in the state have started complaining about garbage piling up in their areas. “I don’t know how long we are going to live like this, we pay all the taxes on time but still there is garbage everywhere and soon there will be mosquitoes as well. What is the use of paying taxes then,” a resident of Bhagat Singh Colony was quoted as saying.