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Sanitation Workers on Protest in Gurgaon, Demand Expansion of Workforce, Regularisation of Jobs

Workers submit 11-point charter of demands to commissioner, threaten to go on indefinite strike if demands are not met

New Delhi: Gurgaon sanitation workers began a protest on Friday to demand the expansion of the workforce and the regularisation of employment. The Nagar Palika Karmchari Sangh, the union representing the workers, has submitted an eleven-point charter of demands to the Gurgaon Commissioner's office, including the abolition of the contractual labour system and an increase in the workforce to meet the city's needs.

The workers claim that despite the government's promise to increase the workforce last year, it did not happen. The union asserts that the city requires double the amount of sanitation workers and sewer men currently employed to serve its residents.

In October 2022, the sanitation workers protested for ten days with similar demands. In response, the Haryana government promised to hire more workers and accepted the union's call for regularisation. Subsequently, it opened 4,298 vacancies for sanitation workers. However, in its recent letter dated February 8, the Urban Local Bodies said that no new recruitments will take place in Gurgaon since all sanctioned posts are filled. 

“In terms of the area square, the city needs twice as many sanitation workers as it currently has. We feel cheated as the government had already promised to increase the workforce last year, but now when it came up with new 4,298 vacancies for Haryana, there was not even a single post for Gurgaon. Given the population growth, a new assessment should be conducted to determine the number of workers the city requires,” a 52-year-old Naresh Malkat,  Secretary of the Nagar Palika Karmchari Sangh told NewsClick. He has been working on a contractual system for the last nine years.

The Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon currently employs 3,187 workers, of which 201 are regular employees, along with 330 sewermen. The union officials claim that it needs approximately 6,500 sanitation workers and 600 sewermen to serve the city properly.

Some other demands of the protest include the regulation of temporary workers and the abolition of the contractual labour system.

“I have been working here for the last 26 years. Women make up more than half of the sanitation workforce. The contractual labour system exploits them the most that include not paying salary on time, dismissing the work services without notice and discrimination on the basis of gender. It’s been our longstanding demand to abolish the contractual system, however, no one is willing to listen to us,” said Anita Devi, a women’s representative of the union in a telephonic interview with NewsClick. She has been working as a sanitation worker for the last 26 years.

The workers say that their demands are legitimate as many in the workforce have been working on contract for the last 10-15 years. The other demands included the disbursement of salaries on time and the availability of safety gear.

Meanwhile, the workers said they would protest during lunchtime every day, but if their demands are not met soon they will go on an indefinite hunger strike. 

An email has been sent to the Municipal Commissioner of Gurgaon for comments on the ongoing protest. The response will be added to the story once received.

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