The Delhi Cabinet on Monday decided to upgrade the status of workers engaged in de-silting and cleaning of sewer lines by changing the designation of these workers and granting them increased pay. The workers engaged in cleaning sewer lines manually will now be termed as semi-skilled workers instead of unskilled workers and will get the minimum wages of Rs. 8,528 per month instead of Rs. 7,722 per month. Those engaged in mechanical cleaning will be termed as skilled instead of unskilled workers and will be paid Rs. 9,386 per month instead of Rs. 7,722 per month.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who chaired the meeting, said the Cabinet decided to upgrade the status of workers under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, on the request of the Delhi Commission for Safai Karamcharis. She said her Government has given sympathetic consideration to the demand given the difficult condition these workers work in.

Sanitation workers in the Capital have for years expressed their displeasure with the way they are treated and have often complained that they have had to work without any protection gear such as gloves, boots and masks. They have also complained about being employed on contractual basis despite working for several decades. “We don’t even get our salaries on time,” said one worker. Several workers’ unions in the city have been pressing the authorities for salary hikes, regularisation of employment and medical facilities.

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