7 million work hours lost in strikes by MCD workers last year, says AAP
More than seven million work hours were lost due to several strikes by the municipal staff to protest against non-payment of salaries in 2021, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MCD incharge Durgesh Pathak alleged on Tuesday.
Data accessed by the Hindustan Times shows that the municipal staff went on strike on ten different occasions last year. To be sure, it was mostly the staff of North Delhi Municipal Corporation that protested against the delayed salaries. The East MCD staff went on a strike just once, on December 23, and the South MCD workers did not stage any protest.
The data shows the longest protest took place between November 29 and December 31 by 1200 employees of North MCD leading to loss of 316,800 work hours. In terms of the participation of employees, the biggest protest was held between January 6 and 21, in which 52,000 employees were involved and led to a loss of 6,656,000 work hours. Civic officials explained that the work hours lost was calculated on the basis of total man days lost multiplied by 8, the number of official working hours.
Man days is the time in days required for one person to complete a task. If one person completes a task in one day, it means the effort is 1 man day.
The three BJP-ruled municipal corporations have been going through crippling financial crunch that has led to delay in payment of salaries leading to strikes by various employees unions. AAP, which is the main opposition in three MCDs, has insisted that corruption by the BJP leaders has left the three civic bodies bankrupt, and have also alleged financial mismanagement. The BJP, however, has maintained that the AAP government in Delhi was deliberately squeezing the funds it was meant to release to the municipalities. The war of words has intensified over the past few months as Delhi is headed to a crucial civic polls, due to be held in April.
“Over the last 15 years, BJP has been mentally harassing MCD employees. BJP’s arrogance has forced the MCD employees to protest to demand their salaries for over 70 lakh hours, yet the BJP has refused to pay their dues,” Pathak alleged on Tuesday.
“The most prominent hallmark of an organisation is how satisfied its employees are. For the last 15 years, the BJP has ruled the MCDs, and we’ve all seen how it has tortured its employees. They are either protesting on the streets or being arrested. The same goes for the MCD teachers and doctors. No one is at peace while working for the BJP-ruled MCD,” Pathak said.
Kuldeep Singh Khatri, president of Shikshak Nyay Manch, which was also the part of the 16-day strike in January last year, said that despite the agitation, the North MCD administration remained indifferent to their legitimate demand for salaries. “The North MCD officials didn’t pay any attention to our agitation, which led to the loss of over 830,000 precious man days, consisting over 6.6 million working hours. Most of the demands made in the first strike of the year, like getting time-bound promotion and ex-gratia against deaths due to Covid-19, have not been fulfilled,” he said.
AP Khan, the convener of the Confederation of Municipal Corporation of Delhi Employees Union (CMCDEU), said that around 10,000 employees of North MCD staged a one-day dharna outside the North MCD headquarters on December 12. “But, taking cognizance of the positive approach of the civic body administration, the confederation withdrew the agitation after one day. Since the municipal authorities asked for three weeks to redress all our grievances, all the unions of confederation unanimously accepted their proposal. They have cleared most of our dues, and we have decided to give them more time to clear the remaining dues,” he said.
Raja Iqbal Singh, the North MCD mayor, said the civic body officials are trying their best to find an amicable solution to the problems of the employees and pensioners. “We are not getting our share of funds from the Delhi government. Despite running out of funds, we are trying to make regular payments to them. I hope that things will be normal soon,” he said.
When asked about the impact of loss of working hours, Jogi Ram Jain, the chairman of the North MCD’s standing committee, said the corporation repeatedly requested the agitating employees not to waste the valuable working hours. “The salary for two months of teachers has been released, while the salary of group-D employees, including the safai karmacharis, has been mostly released. The other demands of the employees have also been taken into consideration by the corporation and efforts are being made to resolve the pending issues at the earliest, so that no work hours are wasted,” he said.
Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor, however, blamed the delay in releases of funds by the Delhi government for the repeated strikes by the MCD staff. “No doubt over 50,000 civic employees have been facing acute financial stress for last 4-5 years but they very well know that they and their families are facing hardships as Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal government is not releasing municipal funds,” Kapoor said.
“It is sad that instead of helping resolve the crisis by making his party’s government in Delhi release pending municipal funds, AAP leader Durgesh Pathak derives sadistic pleasure by doing press conferences on the issue every other day,” he said.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on December 20 said municipal corporations, and added that despite the government disbursing ₹2,588 crore this year (in 2021), the civic bodies failed to pay salaries to their employees.
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