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Privatisation adds to woes of contract sanitary workers in Chennai

Mariammal was working in Anna Nagar, one of the four remaining zones under the city corporation as waste management in the rest of the 15 zones have been privatised.

Published: 12th July 2021 02:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2021 02:31 AM   |  A+A-

Sanitary workers in Chennai. (Photo | EPS/R.Satish babu)

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  Mariammal DK (45) was put out of work in January this year after working for exactly ten years for the city corporation, with no notice.She’s one of 1,200 others, according to P Srinivasan of the Red Flag union.

Mariammal was working in Anna Nagar, one of the four remaining zones under the city corporation as waste management in the rest of the 15 zones have been privatised. However, while some have been absorbed back into the workforce by the private players, some others under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) and contract workers have been asked to leave to accommodate permanent staff.

She was the only one consistently bringing an income to the family; her son, the only other working member, does not have a permanent job and does whatever comes his way, mostly delivering water cans. She has a daughter in school and an ailing husband.

“So now, we’ve put up a tiffin stall near our house. There are so many tiffin stalls already so we make around Rs 150 a day at best. It is barely enough for food. I don’t know what I will do when it’s time to pay the fees (for her daughter),” she said.

Formerly getting a monthly salary of Rs 12,700, she now makes around Rs 4,500 a month.Lakshmi Devi, who had worked in the same zone and was also asked to leave, joined a private organisation just last week after six months of staying at home without an income.

However, she has to work from 7 am until 6 pm every day to bring in Rs 5,000 in the place that she now works. Lingesh Shankar who had been working in the Alandur zone said that even those who had been absorbed by the private players will have to make do with a lower salary.

“I’ve worked with the city corporation for ten years and was hoping to be made a permanent staff member. But now some of us have been asked to leave and some of my colleagues who have been taken in by private players get paid only around Rs 9,000 a month,” he said. A corporation official said that most of the staff have been absorbed through recruitment camps and a few others had expressed unwillingness to return to work.

“In zones like Anna Nagar, recruitment camps were held by Chennai Enviro Solutions Private Limited (of the Ramky Group),” the official said. Waste collection and transportation in Thiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram and Ambattur zones will be done by Ramky Enviro from February whereas Teynampet. Kodambakkam, Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Adyar, Perungudi and Sholinganallur zones are handled by Urbaser SA Sumeet.



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