New contractors firm on cutting down manpower

The new garbage contractors have made it clear that the number of contract pourakarmikas they employ will be fewer than the current 17,000.

Opposing this, the contract pourakarmikas are planning to strike work on Thursday, besides protesting at the office of the Labour Commissioner. Their main demand is that the new contractors retain all of them.

On Wednesday, hundreds of pourakarmikas took out a protest rally from Freedom Park to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) head office under the aegis of the Karnataka State Municipal Pourakarmika Mahasangha and BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas’ Union. The contract pourakarmikas are apprehensive that around half of them will lose their jobs. “I have been working for the past 15 years and my family is dependent on my income. If the new contractors don’t employ me, what am I supposed to do?” asked Kamala from Shakti Ganapathi Nagar ward.

Jairam, a pourakarmika supervisor from the same ward, said: “The pourakarmikas who will be eventually employed by the new contractors will be overburdened. Earlier, one pourakarmika covered half a kilometre, but now each will have to not just sweep around eight km, but also collect garbage from around 1,000 houses. The new terms and conditions are inhuman.” Mahasangha president Mysore Narayana said that as per the I.P.D. Salappa Report, the civic body must have at least one pourakarmika for every 500 citizens. The city, with its population of over one crore, would therefore need at least 30,000 pourakarmikas. He also demanded benefits and safety measures for the contract pourakarmikas.

Second shift

Addressing the protesting pourakarmikas, BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel assured them of protecting their interest. The BBMP would be starting a second cleaning shift and thus would be employing more pourakarmikas, albeit through the garbage contractors. “This way, no pourakarmika will lose his/ her job,” he claimed.

As per the new contracts, the pourakarmikas, who were only paid for 25 days a month, will now be paid for 30 days. “That apart, we have made the terms stringent for the contractor. He will be held liable if he does not provide two uniforms a year, gumboots once every three months and gloves every month to the pourakarmikas,” Mr. Goel said.

Nothing in writing

Unconvinced, Mr. Narayan pointed out that the BBMP had not given them any written assurance about the issue. “Our demands have not been fulfilled; we have no option but to continue with our strike,” he added.

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