Pourakarmikas in the city have complained that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in many wards was not granting them holidays that they are entitled to. “We are denied national holidays, let alone for festivals. We do not get a chance to celebrate any festival as we work 365 days,” said Jayamma of the BBMP Pourakarmikara Sangha, adding, “While the whole city celebrates Independence Day, we will be cleaning it.”
Nirmala of the sangha, under the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), said that in various parts of the city such as Mahadevapura, Banasawadi and Shivajinagar, pourakarmikas were not given weekly offs but marked on half-day duties for two days. “Pourakarmikas work from 6.30 a.m. to 2 a.m. and their half-working day is till 11 a.m., which is almost a full day,” she said. In some parts of the city, they were given full day leave. She urged the authorities to implement a uniform rule across the city.
M. Venkatesh, Dalit Bahujan Movement, said pourakarmikas were denied their share of restricted holidays, three national holidays and weekly off. “They are entitled to five restricted holidays, mainly for festivals, but they get none. We have repeatedly complained to officials and elected representatives to no avail,” he said.
According to advocate Clifton D’Rozario, a few years ago, the High Court of Karnataka in an interim order based on a writ petition directed the BBMP to ensure that pourakarmikas get leaves and other benefits. Even the BBMP, in many of its orders and circulars, had stated that pourakarmikas were entitled to leaves and weekly offs. “This has not been implemented. In many areas, they do not get leaves or offs at all,” he said. This is a case of BBMP defying its own orders, he added.
However, Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner (Solid Waste Management), said that BBMP had 16% pourakarmikas as reserved staff in the place of those who are on leave or off. “This problem existed when the pourakarmikas were under contractors. Ever since they have directly come under the BBMP, we have been following rules,” he said. “We have always insisted on them taking their off on time. In some places, they do not take off as it would be more work the next day,” he added.