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Civic workers who clean Mumbai’s streets have not been paid for three months

The BMC allegedly told conservancy workers, who are employed on contractual basis and don’t get health insurance, that it is short of funds

mumbai Updated: Dec 02, 2017 12:16 IST
Eeshanpriya MS
Eeshanpriya MS
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Conservancy workers,Swachch Bharat Abhiyan
Conservancy workers at work during the night.(HT FILE)

While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is under tremendous pressure to keep Mumbai clean with the buzz around Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, a look at the working conditions of 2,700 conservancy workers, who are an integral part of the task, paints a sorry picture.

These workers are taken on by BMC on contractual basis and are paid as little as Rs6,000 to Rs9,000 a month. While conservancy workers, who have been fighting for the status of permanent civic employees for the past year, the civic body has not given them their salaries for the past three months. The workers are deprived of basic facilities, such as the mandatory Provident Fund (PF) and health insurance.

More than 1,000 employees organised a ‘bheek maango andolan’, a protest where several conservancy workers begged on the street in front of BMC headquarters on Thursday, to protest against the delay in salaries. Vijay Dalvi, secretary of Kachra Vahatuk Sramik Sangh (KVSS), the union of conservancy workers, said, “When we questioned BMC about the delay in salaries, we were told it is because the BMC does not have funds to pay the workers. So we begged on the street to collect funds and give them to BMC.”

According to Dalvi, not only has the BMC delayed the workers’ salaries for three months, but contractors have also consistently paid them less than the promised wage. Ganesh Devendra, a conservancy worker in Andheri, said, “The contractor pays us around Rs1,000 less than our actual salary. We are told the deducted amount is contributed to employees’ provident fund and employees state insurance (ESI). But till date we have not been able to access or use this amount. One of our colleagues fell ill and is hospitalised. He should be able to encash the insurance, but we have no idea where the money went.”

Every employee is given an employee identification number by the contractor. Money deducted towards PF and ESI is contributed towards the specific employee id. However, contractors change every year, and do not pass on the employee id to the worker. When the same workers are employed by another contractor, a new employee id is generated, and the information linked to the old one is lost.

Out of total 2,700 workers indentified in 2007, the BMC first shortlisted 1,600 to employ on a permanent basis. It revised this list in 2016, and took 191 employees on a permanent basis. It rejected applications of the others based on reasons such as a spelling mistake in the name of the employee on his salary card.

First Published: Dec 02, 2017 12:16 IST