Garbage was piled outside dumping sites and roads across east Delhi as the indefinite strike by sanitation workers entered its second day on Friday. The ‘safai karamcharis’ went on a strike on Thursday to demand payment of pending three months salaries, arrears and regularisation of staff.
Agitated workers staged a protest outside deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s camp office in Khichripur and IP Extension. They dumped garbage inside and outside the office complex.
Shouting slogans against the Municipal Corporation and the Delhi government, they refused to end the strike until the salaries are transferred in their accounts.
“We received a call from Sisodia’s office in the morning for discontinuing the strike. He assured that some concrete action will be taken in this regard shortly. But we are not going to give up until salaries are actually transferred,” said Sanjay Gahlot, president, Swatantra Majdoor Vikas Sayunkt Morcha.
“It’s do or die situation for us. Had the matter been sorted out by the Delhi government and corporation last year, we would not have to protest again. This is the third continuous year, when the municipal workers have gone on a strike for the same reason,” Gahlot said.
Workers blamed the poor performance and planning of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) for the existing crisis. “Corporation has money to buy 10 new trucks worth Rs2 crores but they don’t have money to pay us salaries,” said a sanitation worker.
In 2010, EDMC had regularised 5,000 sanitation workers, who were hired on contractual basis in 1998. “The corporation issued a letter to all these employees and informed that they were taken on roll from 2003-04. The corporation assured to pay the arrears for seven years at the end of financial year. But it never happened. In fact the corporation doesn’t want to discuss this matter now,” said RB Uthawal, a sanitation worker.
“I haven’t received salary since October 2016. I don’t have money to pay my children’s fee, pay rent and run house expenses. Unfortunately ministers and officials don’t have go through such a crisis,” said Uthawal.
These employees threatened to lead protest across east Delhi, including outside the residences of Delhi ministers for immediate solution to their problem. On Saturday, they have planned to protest outside Geeta Colony MLA AK Bagga’s house.
Meanwhile, a delegation led by EDMC commissioner Mohanjeet Singh visited the Delhi secretariat on Friday. “Officials again requested to release the quarterly grant a month in advance,” said Jitender Chaudhary, standing committee chairman.
“MCD is not doing anything. We fail to understand where it spent all its money. We are paying our portion at regular intervals of time. Also, we will make prior announcement if there would be any plan to provide financial assistance to the corporation for paying the salaries,” said Manish Sisodia, deputy CM during a press conference.