Sanitary Workers Who Laboured During Floods Demand Uniform Higher Pay

The workers drawn from the districts had to stay in small shelters with inadequate facilities and had to work 12 hours a day.

Published: 06th January 2016 11:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th January 2016 11:35 PM   |  A+A-


Indian people sort through their possessions at destroyed houses as floodwaters recede in Chennai. |AFP

CHENNAI: The sanitary workers, including those drawn from other districts, who were involved in the cleaning operation in the city during the recent floods, have moved the Madras High Court demanding a uniform higher pay of `1,650 a day in addition to their regular salaries.

Justice K Kalyanasundaram, before whom the writ petition from Dr. Ambedkar SC/ST Sanitary Workers Welfare Association, filed by its president R Anbuventhan, came up for hearing on Wednesday, ordered notice to the authorities returnable in two weeks.

According to the petitioner, the sanitary workers did an excellent job during the floods which could not be equated with any other. Hence they had to be compensated sufficiently.

The workers drawn from the districts had to stay in small shelters with inadequate facilities and had to work 12 hours a day. They got no proper food for doing a hazardous job. Two workers had died on the job and the State government announced a compensation of `4 lakh each to their kin.

Newspapers also reported the bad state of sanitation workers involved in relief work. They were transported on garbage vehicles. It needed no explanation to understand the hazardous nature of their work.

During the relief operations, no soaps, cleaning materials and anti-septic lotions were supplied. There was no daily 'batta' and they had to meet the daily expenses from their own pockets.

Even though there was no Government Order on the Government website, it was learnt from the press that the government had promised `2000 for permanent workers and `300 for other workers. As the job assigned was the same, there could not be discrimination between sanitation workers.

It was an extraordinary situation and all the sanitation workers, irrespective of their placement (permanent, contract labour, daily wager or pump operator), did the same work. When the fact was so there could not be any discrimination in the pay scale between the sanitation workers. A uniform pay scale was a must, irrespective of their placement.

Just because sanitation workers were illiterate, the authorities could not ask them to work as per their wish and convenience. The association sent a representation on December 12 and December 15. As there was no action, it preferred the present writ petition in Madras High Court.

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