Already battling a series of protests by sacked contractual employees, the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) has a fresh challenge to tackle: an indefinite strike against its move to shift its office to the new building constructed at Ranjit Avenue.
The Sanjhi Sangharsh Committee, coordination panel of various unions of around 5,000 MC employees, launched a stir on Friday after the 72-hour deadline for rollback served through a memorandum to municipal commissioner Sonali Giri on July 4 got over.
Although MC offices started their operations as normal on Friday, the employees later shut the offices and gathered outside the MC chief’s office, raising slogans and making the strike announcement.
“The strike will continue till the MC rolls back its decision of shifting the office,” said Safai Karamchari and Mazdoor Union president Vinod Bitta.
Bitta said the new building is located far off from main areas of the city, where around 80% population resides. “Class-4 employees, who are paid a pittance, will face a lot of difficulties in reaching the new office,” he said.
“The corporation office has been operating from the historical Town Hall building since 1863, which is centrally located. The bus stand is at a walking distance, making it easily accessible. The office should remain here, after carrying out restoration work,” said Harjinder Singh Walia of the Karamchari Talmel Dal.
The office is likely to be shifted to the new building by the end of this month as the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) that oversaw the construction has written to the MC informing it that the new building will be ready by July 31.
City mayor Bakshi Ram Arora said: “We can’t intervene in this matter. It is the state government that took the decision eight years ago. So, we are not in a position to reverse it.”
Sacked contract employees stage dharna
Former MC contractual employees on Friday carried out a protest march from Town Hall to Bhandari Bridge carrying black flags and staged a dharna at the bridge.
They have been protesting after their contract was not extended and their services were terminated.