Sanitation workers, engaged for the cleanliness work in the Munger Corporation area through an NGO named as Mahila Niketan, demonstrated before the corporation office on Friday demanding equal pay for equal work. Raising slogans against the NGO, protesting workers demanded direct employment through the corporation and service should be regularised.
The workers who gathered under the banner of Nagar Nigam-NGO Safai Mazdoor Karamchari Sangh also demanded a fixed payment from the corporation without the mediation of the NGO.
Currently, 275 sanitation workers are engaging in sanitation works in Munger Corporation area who were outsourced through the NGO Mahila Niketan. During the second week of December also, the same workers protested citing the harassments from the side of NGO and demanded that their services should be regularised.
While reacting to the long-term demands of the workers, municipal commissioner Shyamal Kishore Pathak said that ‘without proper advice from the state government, the corporation was not in a position to accept the demand of the sanitation employees who are on strike for the last three weeks’.
The Bihar government itself introduced policies to outsource workers in public sector services. To avoid “burdens” of pension and another liability cost of regular employees, the state government started outsourcing various public sector services to third parties. Outsourcing the workers through a third party, the government is conveniently drifting apart from their responsibilities.
However, to tackle the repercussions of these outsourcing policies, the Nitish Kumar government introduced reservation in these jobs. As per the decisions of the cabinet on November 1, 2017, the government declared that “any company, outsourcing for the state government, will have to ensure SCs get 16%, STs 1%, EBCs 18% and OBCs 12% reservation in the jobs”.
While briefing the state government’s decision, cabinet secretary Brajesh Mehrotra said, “reservation policy would be followed in the selection of outsourced staff which is provided by a third party.”
Around ten thousand outsourced employees, hired by private agencies, are working in various state government departments at the Block and District level, at present. Majority of these workers are working as class III and class IV staff mostly in health, urban development, education and social welfare departments as IT trainers, computer operators, drivers, office boys, security guards and accountants.
In the sanitation sector, respective local bodies are outsourcing the workers through NGOs. In the Munger Corporation, a tender was already issued for hiring new NGOs who can engage sanitation workers. Out of a dozen NGOs, four have been shortlisted and three of them will be selected, the mayor said. After that, the NGO will recruit workers for the corporation.
These outsourced workers who are bounded to work under public sector through the mediation of the third party, face hardships in various dimensions including the harassment of the third parties, discrimination with regard to working hours etc. Also, these outsourced workers are not entitled to allowances and other facilities from the government.
Of course, Munger portrays the hardship of workers who are outsourced for works and raises questions over the government’s policy to outsource workers also.