Over 100 contract pourakarmikas from the East Zone struck work on Thursday and staged a protest at the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) office in Mayo Hall demanding their salaries which have been pending for three months now.

The BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas’ Union, under whose aegis the protest was held, has threatened to strike indefinitely if the authorities don’t stick to their promise of paying them by Friday.

‘Indefinite strike’

Union president S. Balan told The Hindu BBMP Joint Commissioner (East Zone) Shivashankar had assured them their salaries would be released on Friday morning. “We will go on an indefinite strike if the salaries are not released.”

Accusing the BBMP, contractors, and the Labour Department of apathy, he said: “In some families, the pourakarmikas are the only earning members.”

Unpaid rent

Muniamma (37), a pourakarmika, who works in Kamanahalli, said she hasn’t paid her rent and eviction is a real possibility. “My landlord threw some of our things outside the house. How can they (employers) expect us to survive without being paid for three months?” She added she also owed her grocery store for the food commodities.

The protesting pourakarmikas also accused their employers of harassment. One of them, Vanojamma (37), said their supervisors refuse to give them holidays and don’t even provide them with brooms to clean the roads. “Even if we go a few minutes late, they mark us absent. We are expected to work all days of the week.”

Long trek daily

Lakshamma, who works in Kammanahalli and stays near Chinappa Garden, has to walk several kilometres every day as she cannot afford the bus fare.

“I get up at 4.30 a.m. and leave home before 6 a.m. as I have to reach Kamanahalli by 7 a.m,” she said.

The pourakarmikas said none of them have received statutory benefits like Employees State Insurance Scheme or Provident Fund, although they are deducted from their accounts.

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