They claim they helped Corporation clean up the city

The redeployment of permanent conservancy workers by the Chennai Corporation has evoked protests by contract labourers who are now set to lose their jobs. A section of these conservancy workers, who have been on contract for the past nine months, staged a demonstration at Ripon Building on Friday.

The civic body started redeployment of 3,100 of its employees from the zones of Kodambakkam, Teynampet and Adyar this week as the conservancy work in these three zones has been taken over by Chennai Municipal Solid Waste Pvt. Ltd, a special purpose vehicle of Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited. The permanent workers have been asked to join duty in their new zones immediately.

The move to redeploy permanent workers to other zones based on their choice has drastically reduced the need for contract labourers. Over 500 permanent conservancy employees opted for the Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar zone, where most of the contract workers were employed. Perungudi, Alandur and Royapuram zones will also have more than 400 additional permanent employees because of the redeployment.

The protesting workers claimed that they were instrumental in helping the civic body cope with the challenge of dealing with garbage pile-up last year but were asked to leave all of a sudden. “We worked hard to help the Corporation when the city was stinking. We spent sleepless nights to clean the city during that time. But, the Corporation has ignored us now,” said P.S. Raja, a contract conservancy worker who was part of the protest in Ripon Buildings on Friday. The workers said that they played a key role in the mass cleaning programme initiated by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa after an aerial survey of Chennai nine months ago.

Over 16,000 workers, including the contract workers, carried out conservancy operations over the past few months in the zones of Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Tondiarpet, Royapuram, Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar, Anna Nagar, Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Perungudi and Sholinganallur.

“We have requested the Corporation for a job. The livelihood of many people among us will depend on the intervention of the Corporation,” said Antoni, one of the women workers who requested the Mayor to help them continue to serve the civic body.

Corporation officials said that they were not responsible for the livelihood of labourers as they were hired by a private agency for conservancy operations.

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