Strike in Karnataka: What pourakarmikas want

A file photo of pourakarmikas (civic workers) in Bengaluru.

A file photo of pourakarmikas (civic workers) in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Pourakarmikas across Karnataka have launched an indefinite strike demanding abolition of contractual employment and making them permanent employees. The strike has partially affected Solid Waste Management (SWM) in Bengaluru. 

While most of the 16,000 pourakarmikas on direct payment contract with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), who are deployed for sweeping streets, have stayed away from work, door-to-door garbage collection has been partially affected. Some drivers have joined the protest. 

What pourakarmikas want
Pourakarmikas across Karnataka launched an indefinite strike to highlight their demands, on July 1, 2022.

Dr. Harish Kumar, Special Commissioner, SWM, BBMP, said, “Sweeping was affected, but garbage collection remained undisturbed across Bengaluru. Van drivers and cleaners realise they cannot be legally absorbed on our rolls as they are employees of contractors. They are not supporting the strike. We have issued stern warning to contractors that if garbage management is disturbed, they will be blacklisted from the new tenders that will be called for the next five-year period. There has been no disruption.”  

Also read: Explained | Pourakarmikas’ arduous road to dignified labour

“Most of the pourakarmikas have stayed away from work across Karnataka and are participating in the strike starting on July 1. Many garbage collection van drivers have joined us, especially those deployed in markets in Bengaluru,” said Maitreyi Krishnan of BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha. 

On pourakarmikas’ demands for permanent employment, he said there has been a delay due to legal hurdles. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai would chair a review meeting on July 1 evening to resolve the issue. 

In Mysuru, 1,500-plus pourakarmikas join strike

More than 1,500 pourakarmikas in Mysuru have joined the Statewide indefinite strike. The agitation has hit garbage collection in the city as drivers of tipper autorickshaws that collect solid waste from localities have also gone on strike.

As cleanliness services have come to a halt since morning with the pourakarmikas staging a demonstration in front of the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) office, the actual impact of the strike will be felt on Saturday.

The MCC has around 2,130 pourakarmikas and 530 among them are permanent. Officials at the MCC said these 530 pourakarmikas cannot go on strike as they come under the MCC rules and therefore all of them are working despite the strike.

“The 500-plus pourakarmikas are working in the city’s core areas. The actual effect of the strike could be felt only from tomorrow with a large collection of undisposed solid waste. We are working out measures on how to handle the situation if the strike continues,” a senior MCC official said.

In Mangaluru, door-to-door waste collection affected

The state-wide strike by pourakarmikas has affected door-to-door collection of domestic waste in Mangaluru.

The Mangaluru City Corporation has assigned the task of collecting the waste to Antony Waste Handling Cell Pvt. Ltd. “Door-to-door collection has not happened in many areas in the city today (July 1),” MCC Commissioner Akshay Sridhar told The Hindu.

Mr. Sridhar said MCC is trying to get alternative workers for road sweeping and clearing clogged storm water drains.

In Belagavi, workers hold rasta roko protest

Pourakarmikas in Belagavi struck work and joined the state-wide protest demanding regularisation of services, higher salary and allowances and better working conditions.

Workers walked to the Rani Channamma circle and sat there for over an hour in a rasta roko protest, forcing the city police to divert traffic away from the circle.

Garbage collection was also hit in the city as the morning routine of door to door collection was not done. Streets were not swept and garbage bins were not emptied. Activists said they would continue the protest till their demands were met.

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 1:54:14 pm |