Sanitation workers in east Delhi finally called off their strike on Monday, 11 days after they refused to lift garbage to protest against non-payment of salaries.
The last batch of workers on strike had a meeting with Mohanjeet Singh, commissioner, East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) after which they announced that they will resume work right away.
By Friday 83% of the protesting sanitation workers had already returned to their jobs, as they had been paid their salaries for the last two months. It was only one union of the total 15 unions - MCD Swachhata Karamchari Union - that was continuing to protest.
“We have already paid them salaries for Nov-Dec. We have also agreed to most of their demands but we cannot pay them the arrears yet,” Singh told HT.
Union members said that they had been reassured by the commissioner that salaries would not be delayed from now on. “They have also agreed to one of our other demands that the 700 odd employees, who are currently working on a ‘substitute’ basis where they fill in for people on leave, these people will be taken on the regularized roll soon,” said Sanjay Gehlot, president of MCD Swachhata Karmchari Union.
Another point of contention has been that employees who are eligible for a promotion according to the MCD recruitment rules, which states that a regularized sanitation worker may be promoted to Assistant Sanitation Inspector after eight years of service, have not been promoted yet.
Gehlot said that the commissioner had agreed to promote such employees if they meet certain criteria.
However, Gehlot also claimed that the EDMC has said they would not be paying any of the arrears from 2003, because they do not have the money for it.
Though the workers have resumed work and seem to be appeased for now, the MCD Swachhata Karmchari Union members claim that they will continue to protest outside the EDMC offices until their demands for settlement of all pending dues are met.
They also have a mass protest planned for February 7, which will see participation of municipal staff from various departments, such as horticulture, education, health and others. The sanitation workers will gather at Rajghat and later protest outside the chief minister’s office and Delhi Secretariat and demand the implementation of the recommendations of the fourth Delhi Finance Commission report and pending arrears.