Municipal workers threaten to go on another strike

The municipal workers’ unions are again mulling to go on a city-wide protest demanding clearance of arrears, cashless health facilities and regularisation of contractual posts.

The unions of workers said they are looking forward to the High Court hearing on March 16. “If the court’s order does not hold anything positive for us then we will be left with no choice. We will have to resort to an indefinite strike to get what we deserve,” said Sanjay Gehlot, Swatantra Majdoor Vikas Sanyukt Morcha, an umbrella organisation with nearly 28 unions under its banner.

“We ended our last protest on the 15-day after the court’s assurance that our demands will be looked into. The court was kept in the dark (by municipal corporations and the AAP government). We have been given salaries but we want other benefits. We have still not paid Diwali bonus,” added Gehlot.

Fund-starved North and East corporations’ employees, including sanitation workers, teachers and engineers, went on strike on January 27 demanding timely payment of salaries and clearance of arrears. Two days later, doctors, nurses and paramedic staff also joined the agitation. Even South Corporation’s sanitation workers had struck work showing solidarity with their coworkers.

The AAP government offered a bailout package of Rs 693 crore to the East and North Corporations, of which Rs 551 crore was in the from of loan. Even, the Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung offered Rs 300 crore loan from Delhi Development Aagency (DDA) to make the municipalities call off their agitation.

The municipal employees unions had said the amount offered was not enough to clear the arrears of the employees. “We had demanded Rs 5,000 crore from the LG and all we got was around Rs 1,000 crore which will be used to pay our salaries only,” said Gehlot.

The East Delhi Municipal Corporation requires over Rs 100 crore a month to pay salaries and other benefits to its over 32,000 employees. Even the North Corporation is in the red and it needs Rs 171 crore to pay salaries and other benefits to its over 70,000 employees every month.

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