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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Delhi: Salaries, pension delayed again, over 1 lakh workers across civic bodies go on strike

The workers, led by the Confederation of MCD Employees Union, have been on strike since Thursday and have been staging protests at various zonal offices across the city.

Written by Ananya Tiwari | New Delhi | Updated: January 10, 2021 3:30:37 am
Salaries, pension delayed again, over 1 lakh workers across civic bodies go on strikeOutside the Narela zonal office, Saturday. (Express photo)

Teachers, safai karamcharis, nursing staff and other employees of the three municipalities staged protests at the Narela, Rohini and Civil Lines zonal offices Saturday demanding payment of salaries and pension.

The workers, led by the Confederation of MCD Employees Union, have been on strike since Thursday and have been staging protests at various zonal offices across the city. “There are around 1.5 lakh employees across the MCDs, but since South MCD is not as severely affected, around 1 lakh employees are on strike from the North and East MCDs,” said A P Khan, convenor of union.

During the protests in September last year, MCD mayors had promised payment by November-end in response to the hunger strike called by resident doctors of North MCD’s Hindu Rao hospital in October.

During Saturday’s protest, Satish Kumar (51), a maintenance worker for the North MCD and resident of Mundka village, who earns around Rs 35,000 in-hand per month, said, “My oldest son, who worked at a factory earning around Rs 7,000 per month, and my wife, who worked as a domestic help, have been out of jobs. I have not been paid since last September. I cannot bear to see my children suffer. I keep taking loans to feed my family. Sometimes I wish I could kill myself but I cannot.”

With many loan payments pending, he also risks losing his electricity connection and is struggling to afford internet for his 17-year-old daughter’s online classes.

Indumati Jamwal (50), a nursing officer at Hindu Rao Hospital and a resident of Paschim Vihar, who earns Rs 1 lakh a month, said, “I haven’t been paid since September last year. My husband, who freelances as a customs agent, has also not been earning regularly as the export-import business has been hit since March. All our savings have been used… We just want a permanent solution to this.”

Both Deepak Sharma (47), a resident of Adarsh Nagar and a teacher at an MCD school in North MCD’s Keshavpuram zone, and his wife Aarti Sharma, also an MCD teacher at the City SP zone, have not been paid their salaries, approximately Rs 90,000 in-hand each, since last August. The couple said they had to dip into their savings reserved for their children’s future.

Sharma said, “My 17-year-old son is pursuing a diploma from the University of Delhi, and my younger son is in Class XI. Since neither of us are being paid, we not only have had to break our FD and savings, but are defaulting on various loans.”

Sharma, like others, also wishes for a permanent solution to the financial crisis: “Whether it is the MCDs that are underfunded and are non-revenue generating, or if it is the Delhi government which is not paying their dues — we are the ones being affected.”

On Thursday, the union wrote to L-G Anil Baijal requesting the Delhi government to ensure payment of salaries and pensions, and for reunification of the three MCDs.

North MCD opposition leader, AAP’s Vikas Goel, claimed, “Sanitation workers wrote to the mayor and commissioner on December 20 last year, stating they would go on strike from January 7. But the BJP did not pay them. When workers went on strike, the mayor released their salary for one month. The BJP has sufficient funds but is intentionally not paying workers…”

The mayors of the three MCDs had led a protest outside CM Arvind Kejriwal’s residence last year demanding payment of Rs 13,000 crore. The CM termed this claim “false” and said the government had paid the dues for that quarter.

On Saturday, Delhi BJP head Adesh Gupta said in a statement, “Everybody understands that the corporation is struggling with financial constraints because the Kejriwal government is not releasing funds to pay salaries.”

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