Demanding pending dues has cost 34 conservancy workers their jobs. Hindustan Times had reported on March 12 about a survey that revealed that A-ward, with the most important administrative offices of the city and state, had the worst record of paying workers — they were not given even the minimum wage.
Even though the contractor said he had voluntarily shut shop thanks to the project being financially unviable, members of the Kachra Vahatuk Shramik Sangh (KVSS) that has been fighting for the workers’ rights alleged that only those who demanded their wages had been removed.
One of the workers, Nitin Sakpal, said, “Since April 1, we have been reporting to work every day, but the contractor refuses to mark our presence. He refuses to hand over our brooms and jackets, ensuring we don’t work. This happened only because we protested about our pending dues.”
Sakpal said, “From January, we have not been paid a single rupee.” The contractor, Michael Gunwant, secretary of Sahas Samarth Kalyan Mandal, under whom 20 of these men work, said the deal was no longer feasible.
“It is no longer feasible to work with the BMC and pay workers their salaries. We have a monthly contract with the BMC, which we have decided to not renew from April 1.”
But, KVSS members smell a rat. “Out of 80 conservancy workers in the ward, only those who protested were sacked on the pretext of the work being no longer feasible. How are such double standards possible?” said Milind Ranade, general secretary, KVSS.
BP Patil, chief engineer, solid waste management, confirmed the development.
“We no longer wish to work with those organisations because of repeated problems in their work. We have discontinued with their services and the streets in A-ward will be manned and cleaned by our staff.”
When asked about the pending payments, Patil said, “We are yet to release some payments. I have called a meeting on this issue on Friday, and we’ll be reaching a consensus on it soon.”
Additional municipal commissioner MM Adtani said, “We will ensure that the workers are paid their dues. We are looking at ways by which the workers can get their cheques soon.”
After the earlier Hindustan Times report, the contractors of the ward had paid the workers a part of the arrears.