Thousands of MCD employees on indefinite strike to protest non-payment of salary, pension
Thousands of municipal employees, majority of them from the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, went on an indefinite strike on Monday, protesting against the non-payment of salaries and pensions. Striking staffers included engineers, parks and greenery maintenance staff, clerks, teachers and beldars and labourers.
However, doctors, nurses and paramedic employees and sanitation workers did not participate in the strike.
The agitating employees under the aegis of Confederation of MCD Employees Union also staged a protest at the Civic Centre, the headquarters of north and south Delhi corporations. They said that the employees have not been paid salaries for the last 3-4 months and pensions of retired workers are pending for over six months in the north corporation. The civil contractors of the north corporation have not been paid their bills since March 2015, the confederation said.
The protesters said that during the strike they would come to the office but won’t work. On Monday, the strike was not only observed at the Civic Centre but also in zonal offices as employees abstained from performing their duties. Representatives of employee’s union said that issuance of birth and death certificates, inspection of project sites, maintenance of parks and garden and ministerial work remained suspended on Monday.
AP Khan, convenor of the Confederation of MCD Employees Union — an umbrella body of civic workers in the three municipalities — said that the salary of employees is pending for 3-4 months in the north corporation while staffers of East DMC have not been paid for one month. He said that in north corporation even A-class officers have not been paid for the last three months.
There is no pendency of salaries in SDMC, but other dues are yet to be paid. Pensions of retired employees in the north corporation is pending for six months while in the east and south it has not been paid for the last two months and one month respectively. “For how long anyone can work without a salary? The north corporation has paid salaries of highly paid doctors and nurses while the class four employee who get Rs 15,000, are waiting for salaries for the last four months. This discrimination in disbursal of salary is not fair and is a breach of trust. We had a meeting with all the three mayors on Saturday, but since it remained inconclusive, we have decided to go on an indefinite strike to claim our rights,” Khan said.
According to civic officials, there are around 1.5 lakh employees in the three civic bodies. The north corporation alone has a workforce of around 55,000 employees and it spends nearly Rs 360 crore every month on salaries and pensions.
Civic officials said that the north corporation is in the worst of financial health since there is a huge gap between its expenditure, Rs 5,000 crore, and its annual revenue which is Rs 2,000 crore. The Covid-19 pandemic has further hit the revenue collection.
“This year the state government is yet to give our share of Basic Tax Assignment (BTA), which the government collects on behalf of the civic body, along with other dues. The situation can improve if we get money from the state government,” a senior official of the north corporation said.
Jai Prakash, north corporation’s mayor, said the situation could improve if the Delhi government releases the pending amount of Rs 2,900 crore (approx). “We are making all possible efforts of releasing pending salaries of employees. We have already released salaries for September 2020 to doctors, nurses and paramedic staff and sanitation workers and the salaries of remaining workers will be given soon but they should also understand that strike is not a way to help improve the situation,” Prakash said.
The Delhi government has repeatedly clarified that it has paid the due funds to the municipalities and that it does it not owe any money to them.
Vikas Goel, AAP councillor and leader of opposition in the north corporation, said, “The Delhi government had been paying all its shares to the corporation on time. The crisis is because of corruption and mismanagement of funds.”
KS Mehra, former municipal commissioner of the unified MCD pointed out a number of factors that are responsible for the poor financial health of the north civic body, including poor revenue collection and limited revenue generation options.
He said that many residential colonies, which fall under the north corporation, are low-income neighbourhoods and residents don’t pay property tax while in south Delhi, the number of affluent colonies is high which also pay taxes. Besides, north corporation covers a bigger area than the south and also has big civic hospitals so it has higher expenditure but revenue generation is low.
“The civic bodies, especially the north corporation, should consolidate their fund generation and collection. The government is still giving funds according to recommendations of 3rd Delhi Finance Commission despite the fact that the cost of equipment and manpower has increased over the years but the grants are the same. Municipal grants should also be increased to bail them out,” Mehra said.
Nirmal Jain, EDMC mayor, said, “We have paid salaries till September 2020 and the October salaries will be released soon.”