Contract Pourakarmikas Struggle Relentlessly for Better Wages
After relentless struggle of more than three years demanding for better wages, the BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha (BBMP Contract Pourakarmika Union – affiliated with AICCTU) was successful in compelling the State government to increase the monthly wages payable to guttige pourakarmikas. On August 14th, 2016, the State Government issued a notification stating that Rs. 14,040 should be the minimum wages payable to all contract pourakarmikas across the state. Despite the same, the BBMP failed to comply. Thereafter, massive demonstrations were held outside the BBMP office, demanding the implementation of the notification of the minimum wages. As a result, finally, the question of compliance with the notification was placed before the BBMP Council on the November 29th, 2016 and was approved. Yet, the workers are still paid a meagerly Rs. 7,000.
The struggle for implementation of the notification continues, where the BBMP Guttige Pourakarmika Sangha has relentlessly protested seeking wages and other facilities at the BBMP headquarters, the BBMP Joint Commissioner – East and Rajarajeshwari Nagar office, the Labour Department, among others. The BBMP Contract Pourakarmikas are mostly women who are from the scheduled caste Madiga community. They are an invisible community who work between 6 am to 2.30 pm to keep the city clean, bearing all weather conditions. They do not have weekly holidays, and instead have two half-days in a week. They are not entitled for national holidays either. They have to commute to their workplaces at unearthly hours, where public transport is unavailable. They then will have to spend on hiring private transport. Moreover, they are always expected to be at the beck and call of BBMP area corporators, MLAs, and other dominant figures in their areas and wards. Residents too look down upon them and there have been instances where, residents have asked Pourakarmikas to clean their dog shit! They do not get gloves, masks or gumboots. They dispose glass pieces, sanitary and medical waste with their bare hands!
They work in inhumane conditions, and their only demand to be treated with dignity is being denied by the Government and the BBMP, by delaying their asks for good wages, toilets, drinking water, changing rooms and gloves. They believe that the only way to assert their rights and be treated with dignity is to be unionized under the BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha (AICCTU), and through this union, they will continue to sustain their struggle.