BBMP contract workers say the contract system is designed to be discriminatory and exploitative, and must be abolished.
Contract workers working in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanakara Palike have decided to take to streets on March 8, International Women's Day. A press note from the BBMP Contract Workers Union demanded that the employments of contract workers be regularised. The government has revised their salaries but the benefit is not being enjoyed by the workers, says the press note. Here are the edited excerpts of the press note:
Bangalore sees several events to mark women’s day – protests, celebrations, marathons, art and culture events etc. This year, we are asking Bangaloreans to mark women’s day by asking you all to come stand in solidarity with us at the BBMP head Office, on March 08th at 10am, as we fight for our rights, for the law to be implemented.
The government says they support us, they have hiked our wages with effect from August 2016 (through government notification dated 04/08/2016, no. KaaEe 71 LWA 2015) but we are yet to get the new wages.
In several areas, we get the wages as they stood in 2014! In the same order it is said that BBMP has to provide us drinking water, toilets, changing rooms, restrooms, brooms, masks, gloves and other cleaning equipment. The order also asks ULBs to ensure we get weekly off, national holidays off as per the law, but we haven’t got our leave or any of these facilities.
In fact, we put our own money to buy brooms sometimes! The government said they would regularise our jobs by March 2017, protecting us from the greedy garbage contractor mafia and giving us job security, but we do not know where this stands. Will they regularise the services of some of our sisters who are 70 years old and have been sweeping the streets for 35 years? If not will they get pension atleast? We have several questions but none to answer.
We have had three protests, asking for BBMP to give us our notified minimum wages and to provide us the facilities that they have been ordered to and to regularise us but to no avail! The contractors we work for are worse - shout at us, abuse us, steal our pay, cheat us of ESI and PF benefits which are statutorily owed to us, but we soldier on. We don’t even have the statutorily mandated Internal Complaints Committee to address workplace sexual harassment, although there is an immense amount we face everyday.
We face this harassment, because most of us are women, Dalit women of the Madiga community. What BBMP does is nothing but institutionalised caste and gender discrimination! They stand silently as contractors cheat us, or sometimes some of the officials even join hands in this systemic abuse we face.
The entire contract system is designed to be discriminatory and exploitative and must go.
Therefore, since 3 protests in the last few months have yielded no results, since the promises given to us after each protests has not been fulfilled, we are forced to go on strike. On the 8th of March, we will strike work and head to BBMP for a protest. We will stay there till we get our new pay, till holidays, toilets, water and other facilities offered to us are announced . Our demands are as follows –
• Immediate payment of revised minimum wages Rs. 14,439 to all contract powrakarmikas from the month of August 2016 and provision of all facilities mandated under the notification.
• Declare full day weekly off and national/festival holidays for contract powrakarmikas
• All contracts should be immediately terminated.
• All contract powrakarmikas should be regularised by March 2017 and our Union should be consulted in this matter especially in the framing of Rules.
• Pending regularisation, BBMP should adopt the system of direct payment through bank transfer to the contract powrakarmikas
We appeal to all Bangaloreans to stand with us at this time of need, and show solidarity with all the powrakarmikas on International Working Women’s Day.
Meena (Tippasandra ward) Vanajamma (Kammanahalli ward) Gangamma ( Banaswadi ward)
Rangamma (Anjananagara ward) Rajeshwari (Koramanagala ward) Kondamma (agaram ward)
Nirmala (Gen. Secy, BBMP Guttige Powrakarmikara Sangha)