Five days after safai karamcharis of the East Municipal Corporation went on strike to protest against the delay in being paid salaries, the civic body on Saturday released salaries for February.
Reeling under fund shortage, the East corporation scraped together funds with the help of a grant from the state government.
East corporation commissioner Amit Yadav said the civic body has put together toll tax and property tax collection and diverted those funds towards employees’ salaries. Office bearers have also appealed to the employees to end the strike and return to work.
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However, the employees’ unions — Nigam Mazdoor Sarvodaya Morch and Akhil Bharatiya Mazdoor Parishad — have decided to continue the strike stating that their salaries have been delayed by three months. As per official records, salaries for January were released late. Salaries for February were released on Saturday and salaries for March will be due in a few days.
However, Yadav said only a single month’s salary was due which is being cleared immediately. “We received some money after the revised estimates were submitted by the government. We have diverted those funds towards employees salaries. Their demand has been addressed and they should return to work,” Yadav said.
On Friday, sanitation workers dumped garbage on the streets of East Delhi in protest against official apathy.
Referring to this incident, officials in a statement have reminded its 12,000 sanitation workers to “fulfil their responsibility as citizens are inconvenienced due to their unwarranted style of demonstration.” The corporation also called the deliberate littering of Delhi roads by the employees “unlawful” and stated that the corporation is making all efforts to streamline the sanitation system.
Meanwhile, representatives of the employees’ unions said the strike will continue as some issues remain unaddressed by the corporation.
“Our health and well-being, as well as the education of our children, has been taken for granted. The salary delays have caused severe stress and we were forced to take extreme measures. Till such time as our issues are addressed, we will continue our strike,” Chetan Chawaria, state president of the Akhil Bharatiya Mazdoor Parishad, said. The unions are also demanding that approximately 20,000 contractual employees of the corporation should be confirmed.
The East Corporation presently has a monthly salary bill of Rs 87.5 crore. Even with government help, only a part of this has been cleared on Saturday. While class IV employees — the safai karamcharis — will receive salaries immediately, class II, II and I employees will remain unpaid as the corporation is running in losses of over Rs 1,500 crore.
What they say
East Delhi MP Maheish Girri has blamed the state government for playing politics over the issue of employees’ salaries. Speaking to Newsline, Girri said, “The government could have gone to the Centre and demanded funds but they chose to ask the corporations to go to the Centre. There is no such precedence under which the Centre can directly fund the MCDs.”
Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay said, “Had it not been for the councillors who pacified them, this strike by the sanitation workers would have begun months ago. The government says the MCDs are corrupt. How can they be misusing funds when there are no funds coming in?”
Meanwhile, in a memorandum to the Lt-Governor, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken demanded government intervention to alleviate the financial crisis of the three municipal corporations. The memorandum said “the MCDs have not been able to distribute salaries to its employees” due to “cutting down of grants for various schemes in the Budget” presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.