Led by Chennai Corporation Redflag Union, the contract workers – and some among the permanent workers – had gone on protest on September 7 demanding wage hike based on a three-year-old government order. Following this, the civic body terminated the services of 270 of them, and also suspended several permanent workers.
“The Minister and senior Corporation officials had agreed during a meeting to reinstate all the workers. But now the civic body is taking back only those workers who agreed to leave our union and join BMS, the workers’ union affiliated to the RSS,” alleged an officer-bearer of Redflag Union.
In an instance they cited, three dismissed workers submitted a joint letter to Corporation Commissioner G Prakash in which they apologised for taking part in the strike and clarified that they have left Redflag Union and joined BMS. Senior officials issued orders reinstating these workers.
The Redflag Union leader added that the civic body has reinstated only 87 workers so far. “Several workers are suffering due to this. We are planning to provide relief materials to those workers,” he said.
However, officials denied the allegations of favouring BMS. “We cannot coerce any worker to join a particular Union. We took disciplinary action and now we are reinstating the workers. We cannot do injustice by not providing them jobs,” said Madhusudan Reddy, Joint Commissioner (Health).
When asked, S Purushothaman, an office-bearer of BMS, said his union contacted senior officials to help terminated workers to get their jobs back. “Workers are being reinstated after they tender an apology. The issue was that the workers came to the protest without completing the job assigned to them. Had they protested after finishing the work, there wouldn’t have been any issue,” he said.
As per a GO issued three years ago, conservancy workers in the State were to be paid Rs 624 per day. But the city Corporation is yet to implement the order, forcing them to stage protest.