Workers associated with the Public Works Department Field and Workshop Workers’ Union Punjab have threatened the state government to shut off the state’s water supply on July 21 if their demands are not met at the earliest.
The workers have been protesting over a series of demands including regularisation of contractual workers, a revised salary, implementation of old pension scheme, classification of Class 4 employees as technical workers with salary at par of technical worker and their inclusion in the 6th pay commission.
The workers told NewsClick that the government has been neglecting them, forcing them to take this decision. “This is the only way to make our voice heard. The problem with the government is that they won’t listen to you unless you do something to pressure them,” said Lakhwinder Singh, Patiala-wing General Secretary, PWD Field and Workshop Workers’ Union Punjab.
The workers claimed that the PWD Department has been outsourcing workers for decades but their salaries have not been revised. “Employees are having a hard time making ends meet at this pay. Workers are paid a pittance of Rs 7,000-8,000 per month. How would they manage their households?,” asked a protesting worker.
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As a part of the protest, the workers will launch a protest outside CM Capt Amarinder Singh’s residence in Patiala on July 13. “If the July 13 protest reaps no results then we will turn off water supply from all water tanks in all districts till our demands are not met,” Singh said.
The protesting workers claim that the pandemic period proved even more difficult to survive with their low salaries. “The employees have been working for decades yet they have not been regularised and are surviving on peanuts. During COVID-19, they didn’t have money to survive because they earn hand-to-mouth and have no savings,” said Singh.
Nearly 20,000 employees will be protesting against the state government over their pending demands. “Contractual, outsourced, and other employees who are deprived of benefits under new pension scheme and have not been covered under the 6th pay commission will join the protest,” Anil Kumar, general secretary of the workers’ union told reporters.
The issue of water shortage will seriously overwhelm the Punjab government, which is already grappling with electricity issues. It has restricted power supply to large scale industries till July 10 to overcome the paucity of electricity supply in the state. In addition, the government has also ordered curtailment of work timings at the government offices to six hours, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Punjab government has been facing a flurry of protests from workers, employees and unemployed youth over the non-fulfilment of their demands. These protests ahead of the Assembly elections have put immense pressure on the Congress-led government which is already grappling with internal party infighting.
NewsClick has earlier reported how protests in Punjab are picking up steam ahead of the Assembly elections, with several groups staging protests against the state administration in the last two months over different issues.
Also read: Punjab: Sanitation Workers Continue Protest for Nearly a Month Demanding Regularisation