The salaries of thousands of civic workers (pourakarmikas) across the State have been nearly doubled, starting August. The hike represents the single largest increment for the often low-paid contract workers. Labour Department officials say it would make pourakarmikas of Bengaluru among the highest paid in the country.
The hike – which civic workers have been demanding for years, often through protests and bandhs – was officially declared on August 4 by the Labour Department. While civic workers employed by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) were being paid Rs. 7,730 (including provident fund and Employee’s State Insurance Corporation) till July, the minimum wage has been hiked to Rs. 14,040.
A similar hike was announced for civic workers associated with other urban local bodies in the State. This is apart from the Rs. 3,000 that is being given as risk allowance each month since March. “Hikes in the past have only been a few hundred rupees. With this hike, thousands of workers across the State can expect to lead a better life. The disparity in minimum wage for those in private employment and those in government departments has been set right,” Narayana, Chairperson of the Karnataka Safai Karamchari Commission, told reporters on Tuesday.
The increase, however, does not address the disparity between the pay of contract and permanent workers, said S. Balan, president of BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas Association. “Our demand was Rs. 21,000 to match what permanent employees are getting. It is still not equal work for equal pay,” he said. With the State government promising regularisation of all pourakarmika posts by March 2017, Mr. Balan said the civic workers will have to ‘wait and watch’ if pay parity will be implemented.
Judicial probe sought
The Karnataka Safai Karamchari Commission has sought either a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) or a judicial probe into the Rs. 384 crore ‘scam’ over payments of PF and ESI to pourakarmikas by the BBMP.
“The accounts in which PF and ESI should have been deposited for over a decade is nearly empty. While the issue is being probed by personnel from the PF and ESI as well as the Social Welfare Department, we want the State government too to conduct a probe,” said Narayana, president of the Commission.
HIKE IN NUMBERS
in the State: 35,000
20 per cent
Civic workers in BBMP
BBMP and 11 municipal corporations: Rs. 14,041 Hike — 80 per cent
City Municipal Councils:
Hike — 96 per cent
Town Municipal Councils, other Urban Local Bodies: Rs. 12,740
Hike — 106.7 per cent