CHENNAI: The ten-day-long sit-in protest by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s contract workers seeking permanent jobs came to an end on Wednesday with the police forcefully disbursing them. However, CMWSSB officials and police claimed that the workers disbursed on their own after reaching an agreement with the management.
According to protesting workers, police suddenly forcefully disbursed the workers gathered at the metro water depot in MRC Nagar.
“The CMWSSB management has been continuously threatening the protest workers to call off their strike. Now, they are calling up individual workers asking them to return to work immediately and get the wages for the protesting period or they will appoint a new person in his place. Police also threatened to arrest the workers citing the Prime Minister's visit to the city, ” said one of the protesting workers.
A senior CMWSSB official said that the workers would resume their work on Thursday. “The workers ended their protest on Wednesday after the management agreed to consider their demands, ” the official said.
When the protest was launched on May 16, there were about 800 workers at the sit-in protest venue, the worker said, adding that now there are only 100 workers participating in the protest due to various reasons including constant threats by the officials, health issues and personal reasons. The workers also alleged that the police restricted the protesting workers from going out to drink tea or water and there are no toilet facilities at the protesting site.
“With the police forcefully ending the protest, we are clueless about what is the next. Some of us were appointed by the Metro water after holding tests in 2004. We continued to work on the contract hoping one day we will be made permanent. But the management refuses to consider our plea,” lamented S Gopal, one of the protesters.
The contract workers began their protest on May 16 in front of the metro water office in MRC Nagar seeking permanent employment. There are around 1,249 contract workers comprising field workers, de-silting, jet rodding machines and super sucker lorry drivers in 200 depots across the city. Of them, 300-400 workers have over 15 years of experience and about 800 workers have 10 years of experience.