Conservancy workers in Chennai call off strike after second day

Conservancy operations were disrupted in many parts of the city on Tuesday due to protests by civic workers against the Chennai Corporation.

At least 3,000 workers started a protest on Monday demanding better wages in accordance with a Government Order.

The order, dated October 11, 2017, fixed the wage of conservancy workers at ₹624.50 per day. But the Corporation has been paying only ₹379 per day.

The workers demanded implementation of the revised wage structure. But civic officials refused to accept the demand. As the protest continued on Tuesday, conservancy operations in most of Ambattur and some parts of Royapuram, Tondiarpet, Sholinganallur and Perungudi were disrupted. The city collects around 3,500 tonnes of garbage every day.

At least 35% of garbage was not cleared for two days and had piled up in many residential neighbourhoods. After residents complained, the civic body held talks with the workers’ representatives. The representatives said they decided to call off the protest on Tuesday evening after senior officials claimed they did not have the funds to implement the Government Order.

Protect livelihood

Former MLA S.K. Mahendran, who represented the conservancy workers, said the government should implement the revised wage structure to protect the livelihood of poor workers who keep the city clean.

“Conservancy workers have been demanding wages as per the Government Order for three years. Senior officials are refusing to accept the demand to safeguard the interest of the private conservancy operator who is expected to start operations shortly,” he said.

At least 11 zones of the city will get a private conservancy operator in a few months.

Senior officials said they would give additional wages of ₹12 per day for each conservancy worker. “We will pay arrears. We do not have adequate funds to increase wages. Property tax collection has been poor because of COVID-19,” an official said.

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