Sanitation workers call off strike as city govt releases Rs 513 crore

Sanitation workers call off strike as city govt releases Rs 513 crore

Thousands of sanitation workers demanding timely wages called off their 10-day strike on Friday after the city government released Rs 513 crore on the Delhi High Court’s direction.

A section of workers, however, claimed they were continuing their agitation.
Tonnes of garbage strewn on roads by the protesters were gradually shifted to landfill sites, resulting in the return of sanitary conditions in some parts of the city that were staring at possible epidemic outbreaks.

Sanitation workers said garbage from all over the city would be lifted in two-three days, and work would be carried out at night also.

On Friday morning, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi joined the protesting workers outside East Delhi Municipal Corporation’s headquarters in Patparganj and staged a sit-in. “Strike is the only way out. Sanitation workers of other agencies should also join the protest to force the government to accept the demands of workers,” he said.

The verbal attack on the Central and Delhi governments virtually coincided with Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung’s meeting with three mayors in the backdrop of the court’s order for release of wages. The L-G assured the mayors of the three BJP-controlled civic agencies that the funds would be given to them later in the day.
A senior official with North Delhi Municipal Corporation said the city government has released Rs 330 crore, while the East Corporation has got Rs 180 crore to distribute salaries to their sanitation employees.

During the day, the Delhi BJP trained its guns on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for harassing sanitation workers and not releasing funds to pay their salaries. The AAP, in turn, put the blame on the BJP-led Central government for creating hurdles in solving the sanitation workers' problems.

By late evening on Friday, some protesting workers’ unions said they would not end the strike until contractual employees were regularised.

“Giving salaries is not the solution. We need regular posts and better working conditions,” said Rajender Mewati, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Safai Mazdoor Congress. “We will ask sanitation workers to come together and launch a city-wide agitation.”

The striking sanitation workers' unions included the United Front of MCD Employees, the Delhi Pradesh Safai Mazdoor Union, the Delhi Nagar Nigam Safai Mazdoor Sangh and the Delhi Nagar Nigam Karamchari Front.

North Delhi Mayor Ravinder Gupta said the released amount was not enough to clear the salaries of the employees up to May.

“The chief minister should release the full amount as promised by him at Ramlila Maidan for smooth functioning of the corporations and putting services back on track,” he said, adding that Rs 600 crore is required for clearing all the dues, including salaries and pension.

Gupta also demanded the global tax share of Rs 300 crore for the first quarter of the financial year.

“Another Rs 100 crore should also be released to streamline the services in the interest of the citizens. The North Corporation is trying to generate revenue from its own resources, but until that happens, Delhiites should not suffer due to collapse of services,” said Gupta. “The chief minister should leave behind this petty politics.”

South Corporation Mayor Subhash Arya said the city government failed to release funds to give pension to its employees. “It is an attempt to destabilise the South Corporation,” he said. “The Delhi government is playing politics by not implementing the Fourth Delhi Finance Commission report on giving more funds to civic agencies.”

Under Global Share of Assigned Taxes, Rs 475.33 crore is to be released, but till now the south civic agency has only received Rs 388.29 crore. Under the Municipal Relief Fund, the South Corporation is expecting another Rs 391 crore from the city government, he said.

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