Unrest among frontline BBMP workers

Link workers staging a protest at the BBMP Head office on Thursday demanding immediate disbursal of pending salary.

Link workers staging a protest at the BBMP Head office on Thursday demanding immediate disbursal of pending salary.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

It’s not just Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) who have decided to boycott work on Friday. Pourakarmikas, who are at risk owing to sorting through used masks and gloves, too are planning to stage a protest. Their demands? Insurance cover and protective gear.

This comes after link workers, who have been deployed on myriad COVID-19 duties, protested on Thursday.

The pourakarmikas are going to stage a decentralised protest at the various mustering centres for half-an-hour from 11 a.m., but will not be staying away from work, said Maithreyi Krishnan from the BBMP Pourakarmikara Sangha.

The Sangha has been repeatedly writing to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) about the great risk to thousands of pourakarmikas.

“Initially, they were given a mask and gloves. They were also given sanitisers; but nothing after that. They are collecting waste from containment zones with nearly no safety gear or equipment. Auto drivers and helpers don’t even have gloves or masks,” said Ms. Krishnan. She also alleged that vehicles were not being sanitised regularly.

The Sangha has demanded complete protection for all the pourakarmikas, medical check-up, and coverage under the ₹50 lakh insurance scheme. They have requested the BBMP to identify vulnerable pourakarmikas and give them paid leave. Changing rooms, drinking water and toilets are some of the other demands.

Link workers demand salary

Meanwhile, several link workers staged a protest at the BBMP head office on Thursday demanding immediate disbursal of their pending salary and safety equipment.

The protest was staged under the aegis of the BBMP Health Link Workers’ Association, affiliated to All India Trade Union Congress.

N. Shivanna, honorary president of the association, told The Hindu that the link workers had not received their salary since January.

There are 290 link workers in 198 wards, who are assisting with COVID-19 activities. “However, no safety equipment is provided to them. We have demanded minimum wages. Currently, they get just around ₹7,000 per month,” he said.

Link workers were earlier deployed in primary health centres and corporation hospitals in the city. Later, they were deployed to create awareness on segregation of waste at source and other related activities. Following the spread of the pandemic, they were deployed to conduct surveys, identify pregnant women and lactating mothers, and stamp those under home quarantine.

“They are undertaking all these activities at great personal risk. Yet, they have been forced to protest demanding payment of salary,” said Mr. Shivanna.

Representatives met BBMP Special Commissioner (Health and SWM) D. Randeep, who assured that the pending salary will be released immediately.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 9:33:21 AM |

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