Uttarakhand sanitation workers who were on strike in May this year, have warned the state government that the workers would go on a strike again if their demands are not met. During the 11-day-long protest in May, the workers had put forward a charter of demands including a hike in salary, timely distribution of salary and regularisation of contractual workers.
As the protest progressed, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat was forced to hold a meeting with the protesting workers on May 17. In the meeting, it was decided that safai karmacharis (sanitation workers) of Swachchata Samitis in Uttarakhand would get Rs 275 as daily wage. The government had also agreed to reinstate the sanitation workers who were ousted from work during the strike.
However, the agreements that the government had come up with are yet to be implemented. The sanitation workers in the state have been raising their concerns and demands over the past two years. “If this continues, we will again go on strike. Our workers feel cheated as even after so many days the government has not released an order in this regard,” Times of India quoted one of the leaders of the sanitation workers as saying.
While on the other hand, the residents in cities are worried that if the government does agree to the demands of the workers, garbage would be dumped in the city like last time. As the workers were on strike, the cities in the state including Dehradun were overflowed with garbage. However, to suppress the protest of workers, the government ordered that if the workers continue with the strike, workers would be terminated, rather than settling the genuine demands of the workers. Following this, some workers were terminated.
During the protest in May, the opposition party in the state, Congress, had come in support with the workers saying that the then Congress government in the state “had issued an order in 2016 for the inclusion of contractual sanitation staff in permanent posts. But the BJP has not acted upon the order”.
In November 2016, the then Congress government in the state had ordered that over 8,000 contractual sanitation workers will be made permanent. Nearly 2,100 daily wage workers were accommodated on a yearly contract. In Dehradun, the order benefited 1,150 contractual workers and 408 daily wage workers. Though the order had given benefits to a section of workers, the condition of others was more or less the same.