Barring permanent workers of about 1,000, the sanitary workers in the VMC are drawn from DWCUA and CMEY groups

Cash strapped Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) is vigorously exploring the options to reduce the financial burden. And the first casualty is evidently sanitary workers. The Corporation terminated the services of 320 workers, who are categorised as reserve workers.

The VMC has been planning to downsize the strength of its sanitary staff ever since the minimum wages were revised. The minimum wages were increased to Rs.3,900 per month in 2009 from Rs.2,100 in 2008. Then, the salary bill was to the tune of Rs.7 crore a year, and revision took it to Rs. 24 crore per annum. With yet another hike in salary, Rs. 6,700 per month, the VMC is shelling out around Rs. 28 crore.

The VMC wanted to reduce the strength by at least 1,000 workers. As many as 3,226 people are working on contract basis for carrying out sanitation works in the city. Barring permanent workers of about 1,000, the sanitary workers in the VMC are drawn from DWCUA and CMEY groups.

The VMC has planned to hire services of sanitary workers through contractors, and prepared the “packages” comprising of 25 to 30 sanitary workers, and the contractor can take as many packages as they can handle. With this, the same work will be delivered by “package with less number of sanitary workers”. In 2009 also, the Corporation tried to cut their numbers in a different fashion and prepared a list of sanitary workers who had crossed 50 years of age. The unions are up in the arms against the VMC’s move to prune size of strength of sanitation workforce. Tens of sanitary workers assembled in front of VMC main office on Saturday though it was as holiday. Union leader David said: “The CMOH has agreed to take back all the workers whose services were terminated,” he said. The VMC Employees Union leader Ranganayakulu pointed out the VMC has not served the notices also. The VMC has thrown workers onto road to save Rs. 21.5 lakh per month, he said.

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