We condemn the indifferent attitude of the Corporation and demand immediate payment of salaries and dues to all the workers

11 February 2021: NAPM stands in solidarity with the sanitation workers of Salem Corporation, Tamil Nadu who had to go on a one-day strike on 8th February 2021, protesting the irregularity in the payment of salaries and demanding the immediate payment of their dues. We condemn the indifferent attitude of Salem Corporation and demand immediate payment of the dues and necessary steps to address the demands of the aggrieved workers.

Reports show that Salem Corporation generates around 500 tonnes of waste per day. About 1050 sanitation workers have been employed to transfer the waste from bins to garbage trucks, clean the streets and clear blockages in sewage canals. In addition, almost 1,500 workers are employed on a daily wage basis through women’s SHGs.

The sanitation workers deployed in the Kondalampatti and Asthampatti zones have not received their salaries for the past three months, in a situation already made difficult by the pandemic. As soon as the first-month default happened, the workers had put in a request demanding prompt payment of salary. However, their demands have not yet been met.

In light of this, the sanitation workers observed a one-day strike on 8th February. They gathered in front of the Corporation office carrying begging bowls, raising slogans as a form of protest.

Some of their concerns, as laid out by the General Secretary of Salem District Municipality and Corporation Workers Union, are:

  1. Irregular payment of salaries, leading to a three month due.
  2. The employee contribution deducted from the workers’ salary for the last 5 years has not been transferred to their respective Provident Fund (PF) accounts. In fact, most workers, who have been employed for more than 22 years, don’t even have PF accounts.
  3. In case of loans taken from co-operatives by workers, it is common practice that a part of the workers’ salary is deducted towards such a loan. However, the deducted amounts have not been forwarded to the co-operatives. This has resulted in unjust accrual of interest and penalty amount.
  4. Women workers are asked to board the garbage trucks, despite there being a rule against doing so.

The workers have also declared that they are ready to extend their protest indefinitely if the authorities do not take any steps to address their demands.

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) condemns the indifferent attitude of Salem Corporation towards sanitation workers who, during the whole duration of the Covid lockdown and after, have been at the forefront of providing essential services, putting their lives at significant risk.

Salem Corporation should make immediate payment of all salaries and dues. PF accounts must be created for all workers and the contributions deducted from their salaries by the Corporation immediately transferred to these accounts.

The amounts deducted from the workers’ salaries for loans taken from co-operatives should be promptly forwarded. Any unjust accrual of interest and penalty amount due to the delay in doing so should be waived immediately by the Corporation.

The authorities should also adhere to all rules and regulations put in place for the safety of the workers.

For any further details, contact: napmindia@gmail.com

NAPM India