CHANDIGARH: More than two lakh tonnes of garbage has piled up in various cities and towns of Haryana. The area has been stinking for more than twelve days as 30,000 employees of over 80 municipal corporations, municipal committees and councils are on an indefinite strike demanding regularisation of contractual employees and demanding a hike in minimum pay of safai karamcharis besides other demands.
The BJP lead government is in a catch twenty two situation with just over a year left for assembly elections and a year for general elections. It cannot be seen as overly vindictive towards the employees. It has gone mum after the talks with the employees union has failed and not only the government the opposition leaders are also walking a tight rope on the issue as they see a vote bank in these employees and thus forgot the two crore inhabitants of the state.
The leaders are of the view that the demands of these employees should be met. A few leaders are trying to remind the government of their poll manifesto and few others are even threating to sit in dhrana and hunger strike with them.
The agony of the people is increasing and now they with the help of local authorities are trying to lift the garbage but they are not allowed to do so and there have been clashes between the employees
and police. The Non Government Organizations and others are now coming forward to lift the garbage at many places and also police protection is being sort in order to clear it.
In a few incidents in Rewari and Sonepat these employees clashed with the police. Around 323 employees were arrested and they were later released on bail. While in Panipat police booked fifteen people including two sons of the district president, Nagar Palika Karamchari Sangh, for allegedly thrashing employees of a private company for lifting garbage.
The leaders across party lines are siding with the employees. If this situation continues there are chances that epidemic can spread in the cities in the state said sources. Naresh Kumar Shastri, State President, Nagar Palika Karamchari Sangh, Haryana, “ our strike is indefinite as we are not satisfied with the assurance given by the state government. We want action on our demands now, not an assurance as
the government is not listening.”
"The main demands of the workers of whom a majority are women, are regularisation of nearly 20,000 contractual employees and equal pay for equal work, a hike in minimum pay of safai karamcharis from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per month, implementation of cashless medical facilities for contractual employees,
increasing allowances of both permanent and contractual employees, risk allowance and better safety equipment for those engaged in cleaning sewers. These were all the election promises of the ruling BJP in their manifesto,’’ he said.
Last week the talks between Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and sanitation workers failed and the situation is getting from bad to worse.
STRIKE IN 1996
In 1996 also the safai Karamcharis went on a strike which went for 79 days. A few employees then sat on hunger strike for 43 days and then the demand was also that their salaries should be given on First of every month.