No salary for months, Delhi municipal staff’s Struggles have multiplied in COVID-19 lockdown

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A health worker checks people's temperature on the Delhi-Noida border Wednesday | Photo: ANI
New Delhi: While Municipal Corporation zones across Delhi are known to grapple with fund shortages, they have now not paid their staff, a majority of whom are at the frontline in the COVID-19 fight, for months.

The salaries of staff at the North, South, and East MCDs in Delhi have been delayed for months. This includes doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, sanitation workers, para-medical staff, engineering staff, and teachers among others.

In the North Delhi MCD alone, nearly 58,000 employees and 24,000 pensioners have not received their salaries and pensions since January this year. Only safai karamcharis (cleaners) were paid in February but even they haven’t received their salaries since.

Their cause has now been taken up by the leader of opposition in the Delhi Assembly, the BJP’s Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, who has written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, urging him to release the grant-in-aid and transfer duty for the first quarter of the 2020-2021 financial year.

In his letter on Wednesday, Bidhuri said he had taken up the matter in person with the CM twice earlier and also over video conference a few days ago but no action has been taken.

He urged the Delhi government to immediately release the first installment and pointed out that employees other than those at the COVID-19 frontlines have also been impacted. “The daily wager employees who are at the lowest rung of the hierarchy have not been paid for the last two months,” states the letter.

“Some are not even able to manage their basic supplies or run their kitchen as the pressure of them is anyway a lot due to their duty during the lockdown,” Bidhuri told DailyNews-Update.

Bidhuri is also set to meet Delhi LG Anil Baijal today to protest the Delhi government’s “false claims of having cleared all financial due to MCDs” and further urge him to advise that authorities release funds without any further delay.

Employees struggle under COVID-19 lockdown

President of the Sanitation Workers’ Union Vijendra Bagdi told that even though sanitation workers have been working round-the-clock to ensure others remain secure during the epidemic, they weren’t getting even their basic pay, let alone incentive.

Some, the Daily News Update learnt, have been borrowing money from their extended families to meet their household needs.  One such worker, a resident of Jahangirpuri, requesting anonymity, said, “Main apne bachhon ko kya khaane ko doon, baaki sab baad mein. Poora din kaam par hota hoon, ghar jaaon toh kya jawab doon (Everything else aside, how do I provide food for my children? The whole day I am at work, what do I tell them once I return home).”

Among those affected have been teachers employed with the north civic body.

They have been on duty at food distribution centers for the past few weeks.

 A 40-year-old teacher and resident of Narela told that he is the only earning member of his family and that he doesn’t know how he will manage from next month.

“It is not like I don’t want to help. This is a time for all of us to come together but how do I help when I am not in a position to make my own ends meet beyond a point,” he said.

The MCD teachers association chief Ramesh Solanki had also taken up the matter in a letter addressed to Arvind Kejriwal and deputy CM Manish Sisodia. “While teachers of east and south MCD schools have received their salaries, those working in north MCD schools are not being paid,” he wrote adding they were risking their own lives to help others by distributing cooked food amid the lockdown.

North Delhi MC commissioner, the BJP’s Varsha Joshi, said, “All our workers are on the field despite the problems they are facing. The team unity as they know I give them the salary instantly the moment I receive it.”

Despite repeated efforts, there was no response from the AAP government.

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