Express News Service
CHENNAI: “I have given my best to the Corporation for the last eight years, including during the 2015 floods, and most recently, during the pandemic. Now, there is no clarity on whether or not I will be asked to join work again,” said a contract worker, engaged by the Greater Chennai Corporation.
A section of contract sanitary workers working at the Anna Nagar zone claimed they were asked to stop reporting for work from Monday. Around 550 such workers have been asked not to report to duty until further orders. On Tuesday, another 160 members of the workforce in Royapuram zone were asked to stop coming to work.
Waste collection and transportation in zones like Thiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram and Ambattur will be done by Ramky Enviro from February, whereas in Teynampet, Kodambakkam, Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Adyar, Perungudi and Sholinganallur zones, it is handled by Urbaser SA Sumeet. With 11 of the 15 zones of the Corporation already privatised, waste management in the remaining zones — Tondiarpet, Royapuram, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar and Anna Nagar — are the only ones being handled by the civic body.
“Due to the privatisation, the Corporation is forced to accommodate its permanent workers in those four zones. So those working under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) and contract workers are being asked to leave. In total, around 2,900 staff may be asked to leave,” said P Srinivasan, Chennai Corporation Redflag Union.
Corporation officials, however, denied that the temporary staff will be put out of work. “Around 60-70 per cent staff will be absorbed by the two private players (Ramky and Urbaser SA Sumeet) according to their needs. Even today, a recruitment camp was set up in Anna Nagar Zone for the temporary staff by Ramky. The private players will be dependent on them for waste collection and segregation, and so, most of them will be absorbed,” said a senior official.
Meanwhile, a temporary staff, who sought employment with one of the two private companies, said that they preferred to hire only those between the ages of 18 and 50. Reacting to the issue, DMK MP Kanimozhi, tweeted, “Covid warriors are celebrated across the State but the government has decided to terminate the services of 700 sanitary workers. Firing them without even a notice period, especially when unemployment is rife, is cruel given we depended on them during the pandemic.”