The DhanvaNtri Rath drivers working under contract with the Surat Municipal Corporation went on strike on Tuesday, citing non-payment of salaries for the past 53 days. After getting assurance from their contractor, the drivers resumed their duties.
The Surat Municipal Corporation started Dhanvantri rath services in July to carry out rapid anti-body test for Covid-19 and distribution of homeopathic medicines, at public places in Surat. The SMC had given contract to an agency of Surat identified as Vishnu Narayan, run by Dipti Tulsiyani for supplying the car with drivers. Maruti ECO and Omni cars were used by health department officials for the service. An amount of Rs 17,000 was fixed to each driver by the contractor.
As on September 22, a total of 300 Dhanvantri raths are being used by the SMC. The drivers said that they were not paid salaries for 53 days making it difficult for them to survive.
Dhanvantri rath car driver Majid Khan said, “We have been running the cars by filling fuel or gas from our own money for the last 53 days. Now, we don’t have money to continue services, so we have demanded money from the contractor. We were not getting proper response for our earlier requests from the contractor and now she had given us assurance. We will wait for a few more days and if we don’t get money, we will stop working. We have been assured payment of Rs 17,000 which include fuel costs.”
On Tuesday morning, the drivers of Dhanvantri raths assembled at DKM hospital at Navapura Karwa road.
After getting complaint from the SMC health department officials, contractor Dipti tulisyani reached the DKM hospital. Tulsiyani assured the drivers that they will get their salaries this week, following which, later in the afternoon, the drivers resumed their work.
Tulsiyani said, “Before hiring the drivers with their cars, we had clearly told them that they will get salaries after 47-50 days. SMC gets grants from the state government and later they release the money to us. We have not got the amount from the SMC, as a result of which, we have delayed the payment.”
“We have already given payment to some of the drivers for July. We will release payment for August this week. Majority of the car drivers are school van drivers and due to the lockdown, they had no work. So we helped them.”
Deputy Halth commissioner of SMC Dr. Ashish Naik said, “We have worked on the matter and have started releasing payments. The drivers will get their salaries in the next few days.”
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