Regularisation of Sanitation Workers of Karnataka
After a historic four-day strike by powrakarmikas (sanitation workers) across Karnataka that ended on 4th July, 2021, the Karnataka Government agreed to make their jobs permanent after setting up a committee which will include representatives of unions, including AICCTU that come up with the manner in which permanent status can be granted to Powrakarmikas. A summary of the submissions drafted by AICCTU in regard to the grant of permanent status and adopted by the unions is detailed below:
It is necessary to ensure the grant of permanent status to powrakarmikas with the following background:
All three reports have recommended that services of all Powrakarmikas, whether employed on daily-wage, equal pay or as contract powrakarmikas, be immediately regularized.
Vide order dated 07.04.2017 in Civil Appeal No. 4929/2017 (@ SLP No. 6202/2017), the Supreme Court disposed the appeal filed by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai also holding that permanent status should be conferred to those employees who had died in service or permanently incapacitated. As a model employer it is necessary that the State Government and all ULBs would refrain from unfair labour practices in regard to Powrakarmikas i.e. employing them as sweepers, drivers, cleaners, loaders, UGD workers, etc. on exploitative terms as direct payment powrakarmikas, daily-wage powrakarmikas, equal-pay workers, guised contract Powrakarmikas under contractors/manpower agency/labour contractors/SHGs/NGOs, etc.
Following are the suggestions for granting of permanent status to the Direct Payment Powrakarmikas:
- Option 1: Passing of a comprehensive special statute, firstly as an ordinance and then a law, namely “The Karnataka Safai Karamcharis (Social Upliftment and Welfare), Act” under Articles 15(4), 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, and 46 as also Entries 23 and 24 of the Concurrent List (VII Schedule) of the Constitution. The law will be passed recognizing the historic injustice done to powrakarmikas and to set the same right. It is passed recognizing that the practice of employing Powrakarmikas, previously under contract for years was sham, and continual employment of powrakarmikas on direct payment amounts to an unfair labour practice prohibited under section 25T of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The law will provide for implementation of all recommendations of the abovesaid Three Committees and particularly the following:
- Conferment of permanent status to workmen who have been in continuous service as powrakarmikas, whether as direct payment workers, daily-wage employees, contract or casual for a period of 180 days in a period of 12 months on the lines of the statutes passed by the Assam Industrial Establishments (Conferment of Permanent Status to Workmen) Act, 1985.
- Working and service conditions including provisions relating to leave and holidays, service registers, promotional opportunities, conditions of work and overtime and work load.
- Pay structure and special allowance
- Retirement and post-retirement benefits including pension and gratuity
- Appointment of Welfare Officer
- Provision of welfare measures such as education of children of Powrakarmikas, health service and housing for Powrakarmikas and their families
- Appointment of inspectors to ensure the functioning of the act and to initiate action for violations thereof.
- Grievance redressal system, which would ensure time-bound Redressal.
- Nodal Authority for overseeing implementation of the Act being the Karnataka State Commission for Safai Karamcharis.
- Establishment of a fully autonomous and financially independent Board “Pourakarmikas Welfare Board” to supervise the implementation of the various welfare measures
- Allocation of funds for Powrakarmikas through State Government grants.
- Responsibility of officials in implementing the provisions of this Act ensuring accountability and strict action for non-compliance.
- Option 2: Pass a law on the lines of the Tamil Nadu Industrial Establishment (Conferment of Permanent Status to Workmen) Act, 1981 and the Assam Industrial Establishment (Conferment of Permanent Status to Workmen) Act, 1985, including for urban local bodies, whereby DPS workers would have the right to be granted permanent status.
- Option 3: Framing a Scheme for granting permanent status to Powrakarmikas through a law, in compliance with the recommendations of the 3 Reports.
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