Outside a house in North East Delhi’s Nand Nagri, a poster makes it clear that AAP candidates or volunteers are not welcome. A few metres down the road, a similar poster is pasted outside another house. These are houses of former DTC contractual employees, whose services were terminated for going on strike last October. The posters aren’t limited to Nand Nagri.
“All former employees whose services were terminated put up these posters in March. Some of them were removed by AAP workers… AAP could not do anything for us. The government took away our jobs when we were demanding higher wages and permanent jobs, despite saying that they would fight for us. They called us BJP and Congress agents. We will put up more posters,” said Valmiki Jha, who was the president of Delhi contract employees’ association.
His contract was terminated on October 22, along with eight others, for going on strike. Close to 150 employees were fired within a week for continuing the strike despite the Essential Services Maintenance Act being invoked.
The employees went on strike demanding higher wages — as promised when minimum wages were hiked — and regularisation of services. With the Delhi High Court striking down the hike, the increased wages proposal also collapsed. The policy decision was restored by the Supreme Court in November last year. However, it was too late for employees whose contracts were terminated.
At the core of the issue is the Delhi government’s fight with the Centre over services. A notification issued by the MHA in 2015 took control of services away from the elected government.
“Our strike was never political. (Delhi BJP chief) Manoj Tiwari, an elected representative came and lent support… We did not call anyone… We have tried to reach out to the government several times, asking for those who suffered to be given their jobs back… that never happened. So we have put up these posters. We will opt for NOTA in these polls,” said Manoj Sharma, member of the DTC Contractual Employees Union, who lives in Sagarpur.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the party is not aware of these posters: “We have tried to address issues of people but this is a matter related to services and the elected government cannot do anything about it.”