An estimated 7,000 workers have not been getting paid for months together

There has been a constant demand for improvement of civic services. Bad roads, poor sanitation and streetlights not functioning are nagging complaints that pop up quite regularly. Complaints of drains not being cleaned, garbage heaps lying for days together or lanes being steeped in darkness are quite common.

But for an estimated 7,000 workers that keep the city going by providing all these services, it has been an ordeal to work without wages for months together. Ironically, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, though weighed down by the number of projects it has taken up, has the money but is not in a position to pay the wages because of a cumbersome procedure.

Sending proposals from the zone offices, approving, releasing wages in several procedures for packages that completed their term and through the umbrella organisation etc are causing the delay. Estimates show that the workers, most of them in sanitation, have been going without wages for months together. For some, the wages have been due from April. Their number is said to be little. However, for a large number of workers wages are due for two to three months.

A worker gets a gross wage of Rs.7,931 a month and after deduction of PF and ESI the net wage is Rs.5,700.

During his night visits Municipal Commissioner M.V. Satyanarayana was shocked to find that workers had not got wages for seven months. The problem is not new.

As early as in May, former commissioner B. Ramanjaneyulu told officials to first prepare the wage bills of sanitation workers and then only draw salaries for themselves. Four months down the line, there hardly has been any improvement in the condition of the workers. “Even the contractor is not getting the amount. It has been tied up in such a procedural tangle that the movement of bills is taking a pretty long time,” Mr. Satyanarayana said on Monday.

The problem cropped up again when he visited Zone I at Madhurawada for his weekly grievance redress. This resulted in his issuing instructions to officials to clear the wages by Dasara. Any failure, he warned, would lead to fixing accountability and action against such officials. He held a meeting with officials in the evening to pave way for up-to-date payment of wages to the workers.

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