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Tamil Nadu's Salem sanitation workers 'not paid' for 3 months, warn indefinite strike

By Our Representative 

The sanitation workers of Salem Corporation, Tamil Nadu, who had to go on a one-day strike on February 8, 2021, have demanded immediate payment of their three month dues, even as pointing out that the employee contribution deducted from the workers’ salary for the last five years has not been transferred to their respective Provident Fund (PF) accounts.
Well-known civil rights network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), bringing this to light, said, this is happening despite the fact that most workers have been employed for more than 22 years in the city corporation, but do not even have PF accounts.
“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”, NAPM’s solidarity statement said, adding, “Women workers are asked to board the garbage trucks, despite there being a rule against doing so.”
Quoting sources, NAPM said, the Salem Corporation generates around 500 tonnes of waste per day. About 1,050 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 self-help groups (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”, the statement said, adding, “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.”
As a result, on February 8, the sanitation workers “gathered in front of the corporation office carrying begging bowls, raising slogans as a form of protest”, quoting the general secretary of the Salem District Municipality and Corporation Workers Union warning that they would “extend their protest indefinitely if the authorities do not take any steps to address their demands.”

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