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Workers oppose plan to privatise waste management in Thiru. Vi. Ka. Nagar and Royapuram zones

INDWorkers oppose plan to privatise waste management in Thiru. Vi. Ka. Nagar and Royapuram zones

Over 150 conservancy workers staged a protest in Ambattur on Thursday, opposing the plan of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) to privatise solid waste management in Royapuram (zone 5) and Thiru. Vi. Ka. Nagar (zone 6). They also demanded a salary hike.

The Council passed a resolution on Monday that allowed the collection and transportation of solid waste in the two zones to be tendered out to private agencies. An engineer in the civic body’s Solid Waste Management Department said the private agency that would be roped in would absorb as many GCC contract workers in the areas as possible. He stated that the details had not been ironed out and that the decision was awaiting approval from the State.

Meanwhile, the workers of the zones said they were not informed of this decision, and private firms pay lower than the GCC.

V. Kuttyma, 40, has been working as a conservancy worker in Perambur for nine years. She said the ₹21,000 paid by the GCC barely allowed her to make ends meet. “I’m a single mother who has had to borrow money to pay rent and my children’s college fees. Even if the company hires me, a salary reduction to ₹15,000 will affect me gravely.”

‘No job security’

Bharathi K., an advocate with the State President Labour Rights Movement, stated that many workers belonged to the Below Poverty Line sector of society, and he believed that privatization would not ensure job security. “The GCC is trying to avoid making workers permanent and is passing the responsibility on to private agencies, which is unfavourable for labourers,” he alleged.

Several workers from other zones were also present at the protest demanding pay hike as per the minimum wage under the Government Order 62 of the Labour Department, he said.

B. Shyamala, 31, a conservancy worker, said even after working for several years, workers were not made permanent, not offered a salary raise, and did not receive benefits such as the EPF [Employees’ Provident Fund], regular safety gear, or proper sanitary facilities.

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