Disgruntled civic body employees strike, in North and South India

50,000 employees, including medical staff of NDMC and over 500 nurses in Andhra Pradesh have been agitating, demanding clearance of salary dues

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More than 50, 000 employees of the North Municipal Corporation of Delhi (North MCD) have decided to go on an indefinite strike January 7 onwards, after the civic body officials have repeatedly neglected their demands of salary disbursal and clearing out of pensions. A similar protest was witnessed in the state of Andhra Pradesh, where the car of a minister was gheraoed by the nurses, at Chintalaveedhi, the Agency area of the district, as a result of their salaries not being cleared out for nearly three months now.

The North MCD officials had assured the civic body workers from different departments — ranging from paramedical, nursing, sanitation, technical and teaching — that the issue of pending salaries will be resolved by November-end. The workers have, till date, gone on strike intermittently in the months of October and November, after which their protests were temporarily quelled by the officials clearing a month’s dues, with assurances of further clearance of dues as well.

The Confederation of MCD Employees’ Union first announced a full-day dharna in the Civic Centre on December 24 and then, at the EDMC headquarters in Patparganj, on January 4. As the issue has remained unresolved since the month of October 2020— when the workers were unpaid for at least 3 months and the pensioners did not receive their monthly annuity for over 5 months— the Union wrote a letter to the Lieutenant Governor stating that the failure of the Mayor and the Commissioner to stick to their promises of clearing salary dues by November-end has compelled them to go on an indefinite strike. However, the junior and senior doctors have not yet declared their cooperation and participation in the protest.

The marathon meeting scheduled between the officials and the union members, aiming at persuading the workers to continue their services, brought no positive result.

In Andhra Pradesh, a similar protest was witnessed when the car of Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao was stopped and gheraoed while he was about to visit Paderu mandal to distribute house site pattas to the poor. The situation cooled down only when the Minister assured to look into their demands.

More than 500 nurses, around the age of 20-23 years, were ‘temporarily’ recruited by the state government in the Vishakhapatnam district, during the peak of the pandemic, when an acute shortage of health workers arose. They were recruited with a guaranteed consolidated pay of Rs 24,000, in August. However, not only were their services terminated without any information, when the COVID-19 cases fell drastically, but their salaries for three months remain unpaid.

Though these nurses were told that they are being hired on ‘contract’ basis, they hoped for their continuation of services as there were a number of vacancies at PHCs, CHCs and the government hospitals.

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