- ‘Officials assured demands would be fulfilled, but nothing done so far’
- SMC employees observed four-day strike earlier in January
- Demands include pending salary, clearance of promotions, winter gear
- Official records say city produces 400 metric tons of garbage daily
- SMC has 3,500 garbage clearance and sanitation workers
SRINAGAR: The employees of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) went on indefinite strike from Tuesday, seeking pending salary and clearance of stalled promotions in the civic body.
The strike, the second in a month, has again raised questions over the working of the corporation after an elected body came to run its affairs. If continued, the strike would once again paralyse cleaning operations across the city with mounds of garbage expected to pile up significantly in the coming days.
The employees, however, say they were left with no other choice than to go on strike to press for their demands.
The agitation is spearheaded by Muhammad Maqbool Malik, president of the employee union and chairman of the Coordination Committee of all employee wings of the SMC.
“Authorities are not trying to mitigate the long-pending demands of the employees, and many of the work force of the civic body is without salary,” Maqbool said.
“We tried to negotiate with an official on release of the pending salary and immediate implementation of promotions that have been sought through the DPC, but authorities are unmoved.”
About the union’s demands Maqbool said, “Sanitation workers are without salaries for the last six months. Even the winter season is nearing its end, but the authorities have failed to provide the workers with basic winter gear.”
He said there have been no Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) meetings or promotions for the corporation’s employees, who are being neglected.
“They just have to issue a formal order, which is just a paper away, but they don’t pay any heed,” Malik said. Other demands include online payment mode, he added.
The authorities have failed to come up with a breakthrough. “That is the main reason we are on strike, and now this time we will continue the strike so long as the demands are not fulfilled,” he said.
According to the employees, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor had earlier assured them that their demands would be fulfilled within a week, but 20 days have passed and nothing has been done.
Earlier in January, SMC employees observed strike for four days due to which sanitation work was badly affected in the summer capital.
“We already appealed to the authorities to take the genuine demands of the employees into consideration, but nothing has been done till now,” said a group of protesting employees.
They said the sweepers are the backbone of the city sanitation but are being deprived of every facility.
As per the official records, the corporation has 3,500 workers associated with garbage and sanitation. “We won’t allow the SMC authorities to exploit us, we are getting only Rs 7,000 salary per month, and the corporation is not able to provide us salary on time. We don’t have money to feed our families, our children are suffering,” the workers said.
“The authorities have turned a deaf ear to our demands, and we have only one option left – to go for an indefinite strike.”
Chief Ward Officer Mehraj-ud-din Bhuja told Kashmir Reader that the authorities have failed to fulfil the demands of the SMC employees and they resent the delay tactics.
Earlier, SMC Mayor Junaid Mattu had claimed that the pending demands of the employees would be met within a week and that there would be no compromise in it.
Deputy Mayor Shiekh Imran also claimed that the employees are the backbone of the SMC and their demands would be fulfilled on a fast-track basis. “Where are these promises?” questioned Bhuja.
As per the SMC records, 400 metric tons of garbage are produced in Srinagar daily for which the SMC has more than 485 garbage collection sheds and 98 open garbage sheds.