Delhi stared at a potential crisis as 1.4 lakh employees of all three municipal bodies threatened on Tuesday to join a strike by sanitation workers that has left large parts of the capital littered with mounds of rotting garbage.
A joint front of municipal workers said they will go on strike if their pending salaries are not cleared by January 18, the same issue over which sanitation workers of East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) launched an agitation last week.
The fresh threat was issued by municipal workers representing 28 unions including engineers, teachers, horticulture, health and other departments.
The three MCDs are controlled by the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has often accused rival party councillors of siphoning of funds meant for salaries of workers. The BJP denies the charges.
The MCDs are going to the polls later this year.
“It’s better that the BJP and AAP resolve their political vendetta and release the pending salaries of all workers immediately. Also, they should stop playing politics on this issue,” said Rajendra Mewati, general secretary of the United Front of MCD Employees.
The union said the government was now trying to resolve the problem of the sanitation workers but has conveniently forgotten about employees of other departments.
“But what about other workers engaged in engineering, teaching, horticulture, health and other departments? When the financial budget is prepared why don’t the officials make provision for payment of salaries?” said AP Khan, the general secretary of the forum of MCD engineers.
A section of the EDMC’s sanitation workers announced late on Monday they will return to work. The Congress-backed Rashtriya Safai Mazdoor Congress decided to withdraw the strike after senior corporation officials met them.
However, MCD’s Swachchhatta Karmachari Union, affiliated to the right-wing Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, continued its strike in east Delhi. On Tuesday, some striking workers even dumped garbage outside the office complex of ruling AAP legislator from Trilokpuri (East), Raju Dhingan.
“The strike is not over and we are still adamant on our demands on release of three months’ pending salary, arrears pending since 2003 and cashless medical insurance to workers,” union president Sanjay Gehlot said. Two months’ salary was released on Monday.
EDMC commissioner Mohanjeet Singh said the civic body needed Rs 431 crore to pay salaries till March, but has received just Rs 119 crore from the Delhi government.
A section of government teachers also threatened to go on strike, which will affect thousands of students in MCD-run schools.
Giriraj Sharma of Akhil Delhi Prathmik Karmachari Shikshan Sangh said teachers have not been given salary for at least two months by the north and east corporations. The pensions of retired teachers are also pending for a long time.
“If three corporations can’t work properly then they should unify. We are planning to go on strike if the issue is not resolved,” he said.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre, Delhi government as well as sanitation workers’ union over their strike.