Promises made by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in November 2012, assuring the contract pourakarmikas of various employment benefits, seem to remain only on paper. The BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas Union has threatened to strike work from next week if the civic body does not release the pending salaries of over 17,000 members.

S. Balan, president of the union, said that pourakarmikas had not been paid salaries for the past three months. He said: “Every time we ask the private agencies for salaries, they pass the buck to the BBMP. The civic body also wants to wash their hands off. This is a clear violation of labour laws which state that the principal employer [BBMP] should be responsible for the salaries of the employees.”

After a meeting between representatives of the pourakarmikas’ unions and officials from the Labour Department and the BBMP in November last, the workers were promised revised minimum wages of Rs. 6,936 by the seventh of every month. Gowri, secretary of the union, said that the pourakarmikas were given a salary of Rs. 5,054 and were not entitled to benefits such as provident fund or employee state insurance. She said that the workers were also prone to accidents during work. “Recently, a pourakarmika met with an accident at Rajagopalnagar during her work. She is now undergoing treatment at a private hospital and is suffering from serious head injuries. Nobody cares about her and the civic body has not paid any heed to her grievances,” she added. The union threatened to stage a protest on January 28 if the civic body failed to release pending salaries.

Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy said: “The BBMP is being blamed for the technical problems between private agencies and the pourakarmikas. We have cleared all our dues. If there are any bills that need to be cleared, we will do it immediately.”

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