On the warpath, they wrest a better deal for themselves at tripartite meeting
Contract pourakarmikas, who went ahead with their proposed strike on Thursday, called it off within hours following a high-level meeting of two pourakarmika unions with the officials from the Labour Department and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
The tripartite meeting was attended by pourakarmika representatives, including Karnataka State Municipal Pourakarmika Mahasangha president Mysore Narayan and BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas’ Union president S. Balan.
Fearing job loss once the new garbage contactors take over from December 1, the contract pourakarmikas went on strike demanding that all 17,000 of them be retained. The strike affected garbage collection by around 30 per cent, BBMP officials claimed. It was hit especially in parts of Banashankari, Basavanagudi and Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
Mr. Balan said the meeting discussed various issues, including benefits, holidays and compensation in the event of an accident. “We have reached a settlement following talks and, as per section 12(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947, an agreement will be signed by all the contractors with the unions. The principal employer — BBMP — will be the witness in the agreement.” The draft agreement would be ready by Monday and, in all likelihood, be signed on December 15.
He said the government and BBMP assured the unions that none of the contract pourakamikas, who have received their wages through cheques over the past four months, would lose their jobs. That apart, wage arrears amounting to around Rs. 48,000 (for the period between March 2011 and March 2012) would be paid to these pourakarmikas.
The contract pourakarmikas will now get the revised minimum wages of Rs. 6,936. “After the deduction of 12 per cent for provident fund and 1.75 per cent for Employee State Insurance, they will get Rs. 6,200 in hand every month. The BBMP will ensure that the salary is disbursed by the 7th of every month.”
In the event of any accident, as per the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923, the pourakarmikas’s family will get Rs. 2 lakh as insurance.
As per the labour laws, pourakarmikas should be provided with water, toilets, and first aid. Since canteen benefit cannot be given, the pourakarmikas will get Rs. 20 a day as food allowance. Women pourakarmikas will get two saris a year, blouse, tailoring charge and washing allowance.
Mr. Balan said that until now, the pourakarmikas did not get any holidays.
The meeting had decided to provide them 10 national holidays a year, besides one day’s leave for every 20 days of work. “The pourakarmikas were getting only one payment for work on Sundays. It was decided that if they work on Sundays, they would get a day’s holiday and double pay.” Earlier, Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy appealed to the contract pourakarmikas to drop their strike and resume work. He assured the unions that the interests of the pourakarmikas would be protected.
The meeting that was held in the Vikasa Soudha was attended by Secretary of Labour Department, Labour Commissioner and Joint Commissioner, BBMP Commissioner and Mayor.