Waste Pickers Gather Outside PCMC To Commemorate Human Rights Day

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Pimpri, December 10, 2020: Over 80 waste collection workers gathered in silence and peace to assert that labour rights and workers’ rights are human rights. 

The gathering was to remind the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) of the Landmark UN Report on Freedom of Assembly and Association, published in 2016 which articulated that “Labour rights are human rights, and the ability to exercise these rights in the workplace is prerequisite for workers to enjoy a broad range of other rights, whether economic, social, cultural, political or otherwise.”

The demands of the gathering were that the PCMC:

a. Implement wages for waste collection workers as per schedule titled ‘Employment under any local authority (except for gram panchayat)’.

b. pay arrears to waste collection workers since 24th February 2015

c. Expedite the settlement of minimum wage arrear claims pending since 2013

d. Waste Collection workers of Anand Nagar be given full Covid Bhatta for 65 days, since they were not taken on work for that period by their contractor

The PCMC has been delaying the implementation of waste collection workers wages as per the schedule titled “Employment under local authorities (except for Gram Panchayat)”. 

Rekha Sapkal, a waste collection worker employed by one of the contractors-A. G. Enviro Infra Projects Pvt Ltd said, “Does the PCMC not see us as humans? In the face of this pandemic, we have toiled with fear in our hearts, kept the city clean, and the Municipal Corporation can still not take a decision regarding our wages for more than a year. It has become a practice for different Municipal officers to make and break promises to us.”

Workers were seen holding banners with their demands and each worker held a copy of the original notification of the Maharashtra Government dated 24th February 2015 which introduced the schedule ‘Employment under any local authority (except for gram panchayat)’ under the Minimum Wages Act. Vijaya Chavan, another worker, says, “We hold copies of the principal notification to remind the Municipal Corporation that they are violating an order of the State government.”

Shrenik Mutha, activist with KKPKP said, “Today is observed as Human Rights Day in relation to imagining an equal world in a post-COVID era. Waste pickers, on numerous occasions, have been labelled as front-line workers. Do front line workers not deserve complete wages? This tactic of the administration to delay the decision on their wages is utterly despicable. We gather in silence and peace to urge to their humanity and seek to be looked upon as humans.”

PCMC protest line