Bengaluru: Garbage piles up as waste pickers strike work seeking better salary | Bengaluru News

Sanitation workers protest in the city on Monday. Some claimed they are not paid on time

BENGALURU: Residents in some localities had to put up with unbearable stench on Monday with waste pickers refusing to lift garbage in protest against the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s failure to regularise their services and increase their pay on a par with civic agency employees.
The waste pickers, who reported to work wearing their uniforms, did not carry out door-to-door lifting of garbage. This left citizens and senior BBMP officials baffled as the protest took place on the the week’s first day when trash generated is usually high (it includes garbage from Sunday too).
“We were ready with the trash cans, but the vehicle did not come to collect it. When we went to nearest collection point and enquired with the waste pickers, they said they had struck work as they hadn’t been paid for the past seven months. Even the streets were not cleaned,” said octogenarian Renukamma, a resident of Srinagar. Homemaker Chandrika of Azadnagar near Chamarajpet asked: “They’ve said said they will collect the garbage after the strike ends. What do we do with it till then?”
The BBMP control room was bombarded with over 400 calls from citizens over garbage not having been picked up in their respective localities.
The waste pickers alleged the Palike brass and state government had turned a deaf ear to their grievances. “We have been working for so many years and are already under their direct payment system. Why can’t we become employees of BBMP? We are under contractors and our payments are marred by uncertainty every month,” said Nagarathnamma K, a pourakarmika.
Pavithra Rajashekar, another pourakarmika from Kempegowdanagar, said: “We are currently under contract and BBMP needs to make us permanent employees and increase our wages. We also need a health card.” Manjunath C, a sanitation worker, alleged: “The contractors don’t pay on time. Often, we have had to wait for over three months.”
Sarfaraz Khan, joint commissioner, solid waste management, said the government has to take a decision on regularising their services as permanent employees. He added: “They have demanded a health card, which is similar to what BBMP employees have. But it cannot be provided to them. Nevertheless, they will always be given the best of medical services.”

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