Corporation conservancy workers protest privatisation bid in Chennai

Pay hike and permanent jobs were some of the other key demands
Around 200 conservancy workers and members of the trade unions took part in a day-long hunger strike on Wednesday | Ashwin Prasath
Around 200 conservancy workers and members of the trade unions took part in a day-long hunger strike on Wednesday | Ashwin Prasath

CHENNAI: Around 200 conservancy workers and members of the trade unions took part in a day-long hunger strike against the privatisation of solid waste management in the remaining zones of the corporation.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions, The Madras Corporation Red Flag Union and the Conservancy Workers of Chennai Corporation took part in the protest. Abandoning privatisation, implementing wage hike, permanency of jobs, and implementing old pension schemes were the key demands.

The protesters also urged to pay the arrears. “Corporation workers were at the forefront during the pandemic, but their demands have not been met for a long time. Privatisation of jobs strikes at the heart of social justice. The government should abandon the idea of privatisation and fulfil their electoral promises,” said J Pattabi, president of the Madras Corporation Red Flag Union.

Meanwhile, a meeting to review the welfare measures for conservancy workers was held at the State Guest House. It was chaired by M Venkatesan, chairman of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK). Chief Secretary Shiv Das DGP Shankar Jiwal, Corporation Commissioner J Radhakrishnan and secretaries of various departments were present at the meeting.

The state government should abolish the contract system in local bodies as it badly affects the conservancy workers, said Ventakesan.

“Tamil Nadu has the largest number of manual scavenging deaths in the country. Efforts should be taken to eradicate it. Police are requested to register non-bailable FIR in manual scavenging deaths. Many central schemes for the welfare of conservancy workers are not implemented in Tamil Nadu and awareness needs to be created on them. A state-level commission for conservancy workers similar to NCSK needs to be formed as the welfare board does not have any authority. Outsourcing puts workers’ welfare in jeopardy. TN should abolish the contract system and opt for a Direct Payment System like Andhra and Karnataka,” he added.

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