Morning waste collection from homes and cleaning of streets were hit in several parts of Behala and Joka in southwest Kolkata on Tuesday as nearly 300 workers went on a cease work alleging that they were not paid salaries for the month of September.
The men alleged they were not even paid the Puja bonus.
The men who did not work on Tuesday were not employed directly by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). They worked with agencies that the KMC has hired for waste collection.
The KMC employs cleaners for the solid waste management department directly under its payroll for wards 1 to 100.
In wards 101 to 144, nearly two-thirds of cleaners are from those agencies hired by the KMC. The wards that were most affected were 121 (Behala Chowrasta and Manton), 124 (Thakurpukur and MG Road) and 125 (Panchanantala and Pora Ashoktala), said one of the protesting workers.
“We get only Rs 7,500 as salary. We are yet to get the salary for September. We were not even paid the Puja bonus of Rs 2,500,” said a protesting worker who did not want to be named.
“For the last several months we have been getting our salary from the agencies on the 26th or 27th of the month,” he added.
“We have been assured that we will be paid our salaries soon. We will work for the next few days and see if the promise is kept,” said one of the workers after they met officials of KMC’s solid waste management department in Behala.
A KMC official admitted that owing to a financial crunch several agencies have not been paid for months.
“A few agencies managed to pay their workers but others could not carry the burden any longer,” he said.