Mumbai: Garbage loaders in Western region call off strike

Mumbai: The garbage loaders in western suburbs have for the time being called off their strike. Since last four days, the workers had gone on a strike in Borivali, Kandivali and Dahisar for being asked to do two jobs, mainly loading the garbage vehicles and sweeping the streets. They alleged, since the time, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) changed the contractor they were being forced to do two jobs.

For over four days garbage heaps piled up in the western suburbs with no signs of loaders and sweepers and they had threatened to incorporate all cleaning workers in this strike. Thousands of workers led a morcha to Azad maidan on Friday and were given an assurance by the Solid Waste Management (SWM) head, or adjusting workers in those wards where the motor loader job is vacant. However, the workers were also informed, they will have to do both the jobs, since it is part of their work profile.

Vishwas Shankarwar, the Deputy Municipal Commission of SWM department of BMC said, “These workers are expected to load the garbage and simultaneously sweep the streers. Till now, they were only doing motor loading work. The BMC has asked them to also sweep, which they are resisting.” Shankarwar added, “We have promised the cleaners, in the wards where there is a vacant post for motor loader there they will be accommodated, else they will have to do the sweepers job.”

Baba Kadam, one of the union members of the Municipal Karmachari Kamgar Sena union speaking to the Free Press Journal said, “After a new contractor was appointed, their jobs were threatened and hence we opposed the move. Moreover, BMC wants the workers to do two jobs and we are against it. We have got an assurance from the BMC’s administrative chairman, Yashwant Jadhav so for the time being we have called off the stir.” BMC has appointed a new contractors for collection and transport of garbage in Dahisar, Borivali and Kandivali, who were to begin working from November 1, as per the agreement with BMC.

Kadam remarked there are around 1500 BMC workers working in three shifts in these wards, as motor loaders since nearly 12 years. “We do not have any problem if the worker is shifted to Bandra from Dahisar. We are only concerned their work should not change from that of a motor loader to a sweeper,” said union member. The uncleared garbage since last few days has got the residents worried. It will still take another few days before the five day pile up is finally cleared, since it is the weekend.

Residents in these neighbourhood are upset with the piling up of garbage. Hemanth Vishwakarma, a resident in a building off Chandvarkar road, at Borivali (west), said, “Since the last four days, there are heaps of garbage lying on the road and nobody has bothered to clean it. The municipal workers have not taken any initiative to remove this waste or clean our area. We have no clue why this is happening”

While residents of Goregaon are troubled due to the unbearable stench which they fear may lead to several diseases. Bharti Diwan, a resident of Goregaon said, “Our children have stopped playing outside due to the unbearable stench emitting from the garbage being dumped on the road. Even the dustbins of our societies spilling over with garbage, yet people keep adding to it every day. This can have serious effects on the health of our children.”

Residents of Malad and Kandivali area meanwhile complained the clean-up marshals are not bothered about segregating the waste. They complained while they are diligently following the BMC order, their own staff is negligent. Loretta Creado, a resident said, “We are extremely careful of segregating the waste from our building but the BMC marshals are clueless about it. They mix it all up and dump the waste. What is the point in warning us when BMC does not check on their staff?”

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