Delhi civic strike: Govt to release ₹108 cr, workers say won’t end strike till all demands met
On the ground, as the employees stayed away from work -- the third municipal strike this year -- the streets were not swept and garbage was not collected from many neighbourhoods.delhi Updated: Oct 11, 2017 23:19 IST
The sanitation crisis in east Delhi could escalate from Thursday with striking workers of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) refusing to relent even though the Delhi government agreed in principle to release R 108 crore to the civic body for the payment of salaries.
The workers warned they would magnify the protest if they were not paid arrears pending since 2003, bonus and cashless medical insurance amid threats by the mayor to impose the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to get them back to work.
EDMC commissioner Ranvir Singh on Wednesday met principal secretary finance) and principal secretary, department of urban development, Delhi Government, demanding funds to pay pending salaries and bonuses to group D employees .
“The in-principle approval for releasing the funds was given on Wednesday and by Thursday, the order will be issued too,” said SN Sahai, principle secretary (finance), Delhi government.
But the corporation says the money will be just enough to pay salaries to group D employees, bonus to sanitation workers and pending salaries for the month of August to other employees.
On the ground, as the employees stayed away from work -- the third municipal strike this year -- the streets were not swept and garbage was not collected from many neighbourhoods.
Over 300 workers gathered outside the EDMC headquarters, raising slogans against the Delhi government, mayor Neema Bhagat and commissioner Ranbir Singh for their alleged laxity in releasing money on time.
They claimed to be members of the MCD Swachhta Karamchari Union, which had announced the indefinite strike on Tuesday.
The protesters locked the main gate of the headquarters, forcing officials to enter from the back gate. They burned an effigy of the EDMC commissioner and claimed east Delhi will land in a sanitation crisis during Diwali if no action was taken.
To convince the protesters, the commissioner and mayor called a meeting but it didn’t reach any conclusion.
“The strike is not going to end this time even if we get salaries and bonus. They have to pay all our arrears, issue cashless medical cards and regularise the workers. The EDMC officials can’t make a fool of us anymore,” said Sanjay Gehlot, president of the union.
The mayor said the demands were unjustified. “We already released the salaries of sanitation workers and will pay them bonus in a couple of days. The medical card policy is pending with North DMC, the nodal agency. It is impossible to pay pending arrears amounting to R 2,000 crore considering we are facing financial constraints.”
“We might take a decision on enforcing ESMA on Thursday,” she said.
The commissioner said EDMC required at least R 200 crore to pay salaries to all the staff. “As soon as the amount is released, we will use it to pay R 20 crore bonus to sanitation staff and pending salaries to daily wagers on priority,” he said.
Considering it was day one of the strike, the situation was not very alarming. The private concessionaire lifted garbage from dumping points but no sweeping was done on internal lanes of Nehru Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Krishna nagar and adjoining areas.