Bengaluru

Pourakarmikas, safai karmacharis to go on indefinite strike from July 1

All pourakarmikas, underground drainage workers, cleaners, loaders and drivers will strike work and hold an indefinite demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioners’ offices in all districts on Friday in Bengaluru.

All pourakarmikas, underground drainage workers, cleaners, loaders and drivers will strike work and hold an indefinite demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioners’ offices in all districts on Friday in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: File photo

After years of their relentless demand for regularised and permanent employment being unmet, safai karamcharis and pourakarmikas have announced a State-wide indefinite strike from July 1. Although Karnataka government had ordered for regularisation of services of the cleaning workers during 2017-18, as of today, only 10,755 of the total 54,512 workers are permanent, while the others are forced to earn their livelihood without any social security or health benefits.

On Friday, all pourakarmikas, underground drainage workers, cleaners, loaders and drivers will strike work and hold an indefinite demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioners’ offices in all districts. In Bengaluru, the workers will gather at Freedom Park and will stage a protest until their demands for immediate permanency are met.

After a long struggle and several strikes, in March 2017, the State Cabinet, during the tenure of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, removed the contract system for pourakarmikas and brought them under the direct payment system. However, the Special Recruitment Rules for Pourakarmikas - 2017 was brought in, in which they categorised only those who sweep the streets as pourakarmikas. Other workers, involved in cleaning drains, garbage collectors, truck drivers, loaders and helpers who worked on the vehicles for Solid Waste Management remained under contract.

According to State figures given by the Karnataka Safai Karamchari Commission, workers are categorised as permanent workers, direct payment workers, contractual workers, outsourced workers and daily wage workers. There are a total of 41,373 pourakarmikas, 12,387 loaders and other cleaners, and 752 UGD helpers in the State. Among them, only 26,349 pourakarmikas are under direct payment of whom 16,516 work for the BBMP. Meanwhile 11,916 loaders and cleaners continue to be contractual employees, with 10,200 working for the BBMP.

The Joint Struggle Committee of Pourakarmika Unions has a one-point agenda that all categories of cleanliness workers, irrespective of the kind of work they do, to be treated as pourakarmikas and their employment be regularised across the State. The unions are demanding a retirement benefit of ₹10 lakh and pension of ₹5,000 for the workers, as well as a health card and employment for the dependants. Other main demands include housing, free education for their children, equal pay for equal work and dignified work environment. 

Maitreyi Krishnan, advocate, activist and member of the BBMP Guttige Pourakarmika Sangha, said that there will be a complete strike on Thursday and nobody will be working. “People who have worked for 30-35 years are still being treated unfairly. This is a matter of rights. Whereas, permanent workers get paid ₹40,000-45,000 per month, those under direct payment are getting ₹14,000 for the exact same work. Drivers, helpers and loaders have not been paid salaries for close to three months. This is illegal. The main demand is that everyone involved in Solid Waste Management has to be made permanent,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) sought to downplay the impact the strike will have on functions such as waste collection. “We don’t have any intimation regarding the strike. The unions gave a representation to the government at the CM’s residence two days ago. Their six demands have been heard and discussed, and an assurance has been given. There is a meeting with the CM at 6.30 p.m. on Friday too. So. we believe that the pourakarmikas may not go on a strike and will work tomorrow,” said Dr. Harish Kumar K, SWM Special Commissioner.


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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 6:24:20 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/pourakarmikas-safai-karmacharis-to-go-on-indefinite-strike-from-july-1/article65586412.ece