Even after agreeing to postpone their strike till Tuesday, members of various sweeper unions stayed away from work till Friday afternoon.
They staged a dharna outside the municipal corporation (MC) office which was addressed by Sajjan Singh, state president of safai mazdur union, local leaders Chandan Grewal, Pawan Baba, Bantu Sabharwal, Pawan Baba besides others.
The union members are at loggerheads with the MC officials on the implementation of solid waste management system in the city. Rejecting the project as anti-employee and anti-Dalit, they had threatened to go on strike from Friday to press for their demand.
On Friday, several meetings were held between stakeholders in the deputy commissioner's office, mayor's house and later at the residence of local bodies minister Anil Joshi.
To take a final decision on the matter, a meeting with officials of the local bodies department, to be chaired by minister Anil Joshi, has been scheduled for Tuesday in Amritsar. During the dharna, leaders apprised the workers of decisions taken by them after Thursday's meeting.
“The upcoming festive season will not be the right time to go on a strike. We should at least wait for what decisions are taken at the meeting scheduled for Tuesday,” Sajjan Singh said.
Chief parliamentary secretary KD Bhandari and Jalandhar subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Iqbal Singh Sandhu also addressed the agitating workers.
“Reasons that fuelled the sweepers' ire are somehow justified. They already work on meager salaries and if that is also not paid for five to six months, they will get disturbed. We will take up the matter of contractual employment with the Punjab government. Nobody should be paid less than minimum wages or collector rates,” Bhandari said.
“We will discuss your demands in the presence of senior officials of the local bodies department. Till then, for the sake of festivals, cooperate with us and call off your strike,” Bhandari urged the protesters.
The agitating workers also publicly showed their grudge against senior deputy mayor Kamaljeet Singh Bhatia for holding payments of sweepers.
The union members had littered the MC office with garbage on October 3 and had broken open the door of Bhatia's office before littering his office as well.
On the complaint of the MC, police had booked a case against unidentified persons under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), but no arrests had been made so far.
The protesters called off the strike later in the afternoon and the leaders appealed the members to report for work.