GOALPARA, Oct 8 - Safai karmacharis including Harijans and the labourers under muster roll of the Goalpara Municipality Board (GMB) are at the receiving end as the Board has failed to pay them the minimum wages as has been directed by the Govt of Assam vide letter No.GLR 503/81/P1/40 dated 03/11/2015.
The Goalpara Municipality Safai Karmachari Union (GMSK) alleged that respective municipality boards of Dhubri, Bongaigoan and other districts have already accepted the official order and have decided to pay the minimum wages accordingly, whereas the GMB has stalled the decision for paying minimum wages to its safai karmacharis for reasons best known to them. These karmacharis, who are basically contract labourers, collect garbage, sweep streets and clean sewerage but are not entitled to minimum benefits as enjoyed by other employees. Neither can they avail a rest day or vacation, nor do they get any health benefits from their employer, i.e., the Goalpara Municipality Board.
But, there is a growing resentment and an ongoing dispute among the members of GMSK with the municipality authorities as to why the labourers are not brought under the ambit of the Employees State Insurance (ESI) and provident funds, even though various employment and labour Acts are applicable for such establishments, which are employing labourers in such large numbers. Also, the GMSK alleged that appointment letters were not issued to them at the beginning of their service by the Board and as such problems have been created as there is a complete absence of records of terms and condition of their services.
The Karmachari Union also alleged that no proper equipment and tools like safety shoes, gloves, masks and other safety gears are provided to them and as such they are exposed to raw garbage, as a result of which they face common health problems like skin and respiratory tract infection, etc., and frequently report ill. The civic body does not have provisions for health check-up of workers at regular intervals. The Union demanded immediate redressal of their long-standing grievances in order to mitigate their worsening socio-economic situation.