Telangana villages stink: Sanitation Workers Strike Over Unpaid Salary and Hike

Hyderabad: Over 50,000 workers working across 12,769 gram panchayats across Telangana state are on strike for the last one week, demanding a hike in salaries and to protest against the non-payment of salaries up to six months.

The strike entered its seventh day on Wednesday but no one from the government has reached out to end the impasse or listen to their grievances of the striking employees.

The state government pays Rs 8,500 salary per month but they have not been paid for the last six months. Besides being paid on time, the cleanliness workers are also seeking a hike, saying the amount is too paltry to run their homes with the pressure of mounting expenses.

Meanwhile, as a result of the strike, villages across the state are stinking as garbage has piled up, with workers boycotting duties. Rains have further
worsened the situation. But there was no response from the BRS government.

Reportedly, panchayat raj minister Errabelli Dayakar Rao is currently touring the USA to attend a TANA conference, which became infamous with videos of fights between attendees over food.

These striking cleanliness workers perform multiple duties of sanitation, watering trees, driving tractors of panchayats, collecting garbage from households and clearing sewer lines in villages.

“They are being paid a meagre salary of Rs 8,500 per month. Even this is pending for the last six months. The salary arrears in some gram panchayats is three months while in most others it is six months,” said a striking employee.

With this, workers and their family members are struggling to make ends meet.

“Majority of the workers are from backward and downtrodden communities like the Dalits (SC), girijan (ST: adivasi, lambada) and OBC communities. They are being paid just Rs 8,500 per month, which is not at all sufficient to run a decent living. If this was not enough, the BRS government has not paid us our rightfully due salaries for the past three to six months. This shows that the KCR government is least bothered about the lives of poor, Dalits, OBCs, tribals, and those who work for society,” said Erra Laxman, a worker from Mahabubnagar district.

In some panchayats, where the workers were in excess of sanctioned strength, they shared Rs 8,500 salary along with those who were “extras”, due to which
several of them only ended up getting paid Rs 4,000 per month. There were instances of some gram panchayats issuing cheques to workers that bounced on presentation at banks due to lack of balance in accounts.

“Our situation is pathetic. We are unable to look after our families with these meager salaries. BRS leaders promised to hike our salaries several times but nothing happened,” lamented Chinna Nagamani, a worker from Medak district.

The workers went on strike only in March this year after their salary arrears touched six months. Following an assurance from the BRS government that arrears would be cleared, they called off strike and joined duties. The government partially cleared some of the arrears but the situation is now back to square one.

The workers are also demanding withdrawal of multiple tasks assigned to them. They want to be treated as regular employees of the government, and get medical insurance and ex gratia for the family in case of accidental death while performing duties.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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