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East Delhi sanitation workers end strike after 28 days

The workers have been on strike since September 12, although one faction did call off its strike on Saturday.

delhi Updated: Oct 10, 2018 01:02 IST
East Delhi sanitation workers,East Delhi,EDMC
EDMC sanitation workers during their protest 'dharna' EDMC headquarters at Patparganj in east Delhi on October 9.(AP Photo)

Sanitation workers of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) on Tuesday called off a 28-day strike after a meeting with the municipal commissioner, averting a potential health and sanitation crisis in one of Delhi’s most populated areas.

According to representatives of the sanitation workers union, commissioner Puneet Goel agreed to consider all demands of the striking workers, including regularisation of contractual employees, payment of past dues, and regular disbursal of salaries.

The workers have been on strike since September 12, although one faction did call off its strike on Saturday.

MCD Swachhata Karmchari Union (MCDSKU) president Sanjay Gehlot said the strike was called off “after a successful meeting with the EDMC commissioner.” He has issued an order required for regularisation of contractual sanitation workers. We will return to work from Wednesday.”

Hindustan Times on Tuesday reported that 20,000 metric tonnes of garbage was lying unattended on the roads of east Delhi. The situation continued on Tuesday across Preet Vihar, Nirman Vihar, Vikas Marg, Mayur Vihar, IP Extension, Krishan Nagar, Geeta Colony and other neighbourhoods in east Delhi.

EDMC mayor Bipin Bihari said that the decision to accept the demands was taken to prevent inconvenience to residents.

“We didn’t want the residents to suffer during this festival season due to stinking roads and unhygienic surroundings. So we accepted thesanitation workers’ demands and issued a revised order approved by the commissioner,” he said.

“Workers will get regular salaries and pending arrears, as soon as funds are released by

the Delhi Government,” he said.

A senior EDMC official familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that the new order issued by the commissioner has a clause on “availability of funds” being a pre-requisite for regularisation of contractual workers. “Which means besides availability of vacant seats, regularisation of contractual workers will also depend upon the availability of funds,” he added.

The civic agency has been financially strapped since its formation in 2012 and its annual deficit has risen to ₹3,500 crore. The municipality has been unable to pay salaries to its staff for two to three months and also unable to initiate new development work.

The senior EDMC official cited above said that major markets and areas with heavy footfalls will be given priority in the clean-up that follows . “It will take at least 8-10 days to clean internal roads and lift garbage from all residential neighbourhoods,” he said.

“Since the festive season has already begun, we will work day and night to lift the garbage from the roads. Roads will be swept during daytime and loaders will lift garbage even during the night,” the mayor claimed.

Last week, sanitation workers protested outside Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence to press their demands. Soon after the protest, Kejriwal announced the release of Rs 350 crore for the east civic body, meant for payment of sanitation workers’ salaries.

First Published: Oct 10, 2018 01:02 IST