Protesting pourakarmikas pour their woes out

Protesting pourakarmikas pour their woes out

The scene at Bannappa Park, where thousands of pourakarmikas had gathered to protest, was pathetic. As they fought for better pay, they were also worried that they may lose the day’s wages for not showing up at work. Most of them were women and they poured out their woes.

 Marakka, a worker in JP Nagar 6th Phase, near Nataraja Park, speaks only Telugu. As she is the only bread winner of the family, she does not miss her work for anything. “It has been 14 years since I have been working as a pourakarmika here. I started with a salary of Rs 700 and now I am earning close to Rs 12,000. But till today, I have not got my salary on time and they deduct my salary when I take a day off due to ill health. Can’t they grant me sick leave? I am not entitled to one. We are also human beings and our demand is just. It is difficult to run the household even if I lose a single day’s pay.”

Nagarathna of Peenya 2nd Stage says, “The contractor abuses us if there are slip-ups in the work. It is alright if I am shouted at for not working properly. We all try our best to clean the city since that is what helps me earn. But they don’t pay my salary on time. I have been waiting for my salary for the past three months. This has been going on for long. I cannot stand this injustice anymore.” Nagarathna seemed quite hopeful of the outcome of the protest. She said, “I think government officials will come and try to help us out since we are protesting on a large scale. But we are not moving out of this place till that happens.”

 Another pourakarmika, Anjappa, said, “I work at JP Nagar. I cannot read and write. I have been earning my bread and butter for the past 10 years by sweeping. If they consider me a government employee, I might get pension and live my last few years with whatever I get. It is with much difficulty that I raised my daughter. I could not give her a good life.”

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