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Delhi sanitation workers threaten to go on strike if not provided safety gear amid corona pandemic

By Ashish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2020 08:33 PM IST

New Delhi:

Worried about their well-being during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, sanitation workers across the city have asked the three municipal corporations to provide them protective gear to prevent them getting infected with the Covid-19 disease. They have threatened a strike if their demands for safety gear such as gloves, masks, gumboots and hand sanitisers are not met in the next couple of days.

Sanitation employees working across the three municipal corporations — North, East (EDMC) and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) — said they are working without any protective gear, and are exposed to a greater risk of being infected.

Sanjay Gehlot, president, Akhil Bhartiya Safai Majdoor Sangh, said sanitation employees work at the forefront, and are susceptible to the virus. He said the municipal authorities are turning a blind eye towards the seriousness of the issue despite repeated requests to them to provide safety equipments to sanitation workers.

“We have held meetings with the mayors of the three corporations and requested them to provide workers with masks, gloves, sanitisers and gumboots, so that they do not get infected with the coronavirus. We don’t have the option of working from home, so we need to take protective measures,” Gehlot said.

He added that civic authorities have assured they will provide workers with the safety gear necessary in a couple of days. “If we are not provided with protective equipment, then we will stop coming to work after a couple of days. We cannot risk our lives amid such a pandemic,” Gehlot said.

There are around 71,345 sanitation workers engaged with three municipal corporations . North Delhi Municipal Corporation has 31,332 sanitation workers, EDMC has 15,023 sanitation employees, while there are 25,00 sanitation employees working with the SDMC.

Rinku Singh, a sanitation worker with the North civic body said authorities have not yet provided him with any protective gear. “We have been working without any protection amid the pandemic. We work in dirty conditions and deal with garbage and engage with the public directly, so the risk factor is high, but authorities are yet to take the matter seriously,” Singh said.

Avtar Singh, mayor of the north civic body, said the municipality was arranging protective items to distribute among sanitation workers.

“Their concerns are genuine, and we will take care of them. We have already ordered the procurement of masks, gloves and hand sanitisers, which will be distributed to sanitation workers in a couple of days,” Singh said.

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