Tower of Silence workers in Mumbai go on ‘mass leave’, volunteers fill void

The ground staff of the Parsi Tower of Silence at Malabar Hill, including the Khandias — the traditional corpse bearers who carry bodies into the towers — went on mass casual leave on Tuesday demanding bonus payments, forcing the Doongerwadi management to depend on volunteers for performing the last rites.

mumbai Updated: Aug 22, 2018 08:31 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Tower of Silence,mass leave,Khandias
Though the ‘leave’ was limited for a day, the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP), which manages the Doongerwadi, said they will seek legal help to act against the employees if they convert the leave to strike. (AFP/Picture for representation)

The ground staff of the Parsi Tower of Silence at Malabar Hill, including the Khandias — the traditional corpse bearers who carry bodies into the towers — went on mass casual leave on Tuesday demanding bonus payments, forcing the Doongerwadi management to depend on volunteers for performing the last rites.

The members from Doongerwadi’s management committee consigned two bodies to the towers on Tuesday, for the last rites.

“The two funerals took place on Tuesday afternoon. There was no delay in the last rites of the bodies because six office bearers and two youths from the community volunteered to do the work,” said Vistaspar Mehta, manager, Doongerwadi.

Though the ‘leave’ was limited for a day, the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP), which manages the Doongerwadi, said they will seek legal help to act against the employees if they convert the leave to strike.

“The work at Doongerwadi amounts to essential services. We may consult our lawyer to see the legal options we have. If employees convert the leave to strike, we will act against them,” said Kersi Randeria, Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP) trustee.

The class four employees, who went on leave, are a part of the Mumbai Mazdoor Union.

In a letter written to the BPP before the Parsi New Year on Friday, Dhunji Naterwalla, the general secretary of the union said for the first time, the employees would be observing the New Year by consuming “masoor dal” instead of “chicken pulav.”

“Every year we receive our bonus before the Parsi New Year. This year despite repeated requests, we haven’t got our dues,” Naterwalla said.

But according to BPP, bonus can be paid 10 days prior to either Ganpati, Parsi New Year or Diwali.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 06:07 IST