Sanitation workers and garbage collectors call off strike in Chandigarh

With the strike being called off, residents heaved a sigh of relief. Garbage has been piling up on the roadsides across the city, with the situation worsening after Dussehra on Sunday
Published on Oct 26, 2020 10:53 PM IST
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ByHT Correspondent, Chandigarh

Sanitation workers and door-to-door garbage collectors on Monday called off their indefinite strike in Chandigarh. They will resume work from Tuesday.

The strike was ended even though key objections of the unions — GPS-enabled watches to keep track on sanitation workers and takeover of door-to-door garbage collection by the municipal corporation — remained unresolved.

In a meeting with the union representatives on Monday, MC officials reiterated that the two contentious decisions were being implemented only after the approval of the General House and the UT administration. It was decided that the unions will take up these issues with the authorities “at their own level”.

However, the MC assured the protesters that the remaining demands, including regular jobs besides house allotment and pension benefits to all daily-wage employees, and payment to contract staff on ‘same work, same pay’ basis, will be addressed as per the prevailing laws and rules.

Even councillors had a meeting with the union representatives. “After we assured them that their key demands will soon be resolved, they agreed to call off their strike,” said ex-mayor Rajesh Kalia, who is the MC sanitation committee chairman.

Issues to come up in MC House

Sanitation workers went on strike on Friday, their main objection being to GPS-enabled watches introduced to keep a check on irregularities in attendance of the field staff.

The civic body procured 4,000 watches on a monthly rent of 18 lakh to cover 2,400 sanitation workers, 1,000 work munshis and 600 gardeners.

Krishan Kumar Chadda, president, Safai Karamchari Union, said: “We have been assured that in the next General House meeting, the issue of GPS-enabled watches will be tabled and decided upon. Till the House decision is reversed, we will continue to stage a protest, four people at a time, outside the MC office.”

The private door-to-door garbage collectors had also joined the stir, suspending work across the city on Saturday. They have been up in arms over the MC’s plan to run garbage collection vehicles in all wards and collection of monthly charges from households on behalf of the collectors.

Om Prakash Saini, president of Chandigarh Door-to-Door Garbage Collectors’ Society, said: “We have been assured that a five-member committee, comprising of three ex-mayors and two councillors and to be constituted by city BJP chief Arun Sood, will look into our demands. Our issues will also be taken up in the next General House meeting.

With the strike being called off, residents heaved a sigh of relief. Garbage has been piling up on the roadsides across the city, with the situation worsening after Dussehra on Sunday.

Although there were no big celebrations in view of the pandemic, small effigies were burnt in some localities.

“While roads continue to be littered with garbage, children who organised Dussehra helped in clearing the mess,” said Surinder Sharma, president, RWA, Sector 15. In Sector 35 and 46, too, residents came together to clean the roads after the festivities.

Physical House meet on October 29

Mayor Raj Bala Malik has decided to call a physical MC General House meeting on October 29. The meeting held on October 20, through video conference, was adjourned as 18 BJP councillors had boycotted it. They were demanding a physical meet rather than a virtual one.

City BJP chief and councillor Arun Sood, who was among those who remained absent from the meeting, said: “We will bring table agendas of GPS-enabled watches and issues relating to door-to-door garbage collectors in the House meeting. We will question the officials in the House that what difference has the watches made in the last three months, for which the cash-starved MC is paying 18 lakh per month.”

The BJP also plans to bring table agenda on water tariff revision. The party has been facing public ire on the steep hike.

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