As the sanitation workers’ strike in Delhi entered its 13th day, there is no clear solution to the garbage mess that the city is battling. The striking sanitation workers of the three municipal corporations of Delhi told the Delhi High Court on Monday morning that they will end their strike and resume work. This, after the municipal corporations assured the court that the funds had been released and the salaries of protesting employees would be available to them in the next two days.
However, the unions that are protesting against non-payment of dues and arrears, are divided over ending their strike.
“All the 38 unions of the workers who are part of the Swatantra Mazdoor Vikas Sanyukt Morcha have decided to continue the stir even as the High Court asked us to think about ending it,” said Sanjay Gehlot, president of the Sanyukt Morcha.
On the other hand, leaders of United Front of MCD Employees said that they have decided to suspend their strike for two days.
On Monday, the municipal corporations of Delhi (MCDs) told a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath that the funds were released on February 5, but have been delayed because some zonal offices were closed. The corporations assured the court that those workers who did not already receive their salary, will get it in a couple of days.
On the other side, the workers claimed that a majority of them did not receive salaries for January 2016.
The bench, took on record the statements made by both sides and listed the matter for a hearing on February 10. On that day, the court will also hear arguments on issues of payment of other arrears as well as unification of the corporations, which was also raised by the unions representing the workers.
The workers sought to combine the three MCDs by claiming that the trifurcation of the corporations had resulted in the increase in their expenditure by three times.
The court also took on record the corporations’ statement that there would be no impediment in release of wages to the workers for the month of January.
The bench also asked the Delhi government if it intended to enforce the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). To this, Delhi government’s counsel told the court that ESMA had been revoked by the city administration in 2015.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Birender Sangwan who appealed against the sanitation workers’ strike which had left the capital’s streets littered with garbage for the past 12 days. Sangwan, in his petition had appealed that the workers’ stir should be called off as it was causing trouble to the general public.
In an earlier hearing on the same issue, on February 5 the court had slammed the workers saying that they cannot “hold the city to ransom” by going on strike if they had been paid their salary.
Last week, both Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and AAP CM Arvind Kejriwal’s announced massive loans for the municipal corporations of Delhi so that workers’ wages could be paid and the crisis would end. But both the attempts failed as the workers refused to call off their strike.
The strike by the sanitation staff of the municipal bodies had crippled the garbage disposal system in the capital. And to make matters worse, teachers, doctors, nurses and contractors of the civic bodies had also joined in to become a part of their agitation.
Throughout last week, the protesters upped their ante by holding massive rallies that choked Delhi roads. Striking workers blocked major roads in the city that threw peak hour traffic out of gear.
(With inputs from PTI)