Kerala: Without Salary For 3 Months, Rail Sanitation Workers At Ernakulam Junction Go On Strike
Over 65 contractual cleaning staff, most of whom are women, are on strike at Ernakulam Junction Railway Station demanding three month’s salaries that they are yet to receive. The workers are mostly women and hail from different parts of Ernakulam district in Kerala. Asha(name changed), while sharing her hardship tale said she starts her day at 4.30 am in the morning to reach to the work at around 6 am and now she doesn’t have money to pay for the transportation as she has not received her salary since the last three months, reported The News Minute.
Contractual employees did not get paid
They are contract based workers and are responsible to clean the railway station of Ernakulam. They work for Rs 466 per day.
The protestors complained that permanent workers received about Rs 35,000 per month and work less as compare to them. Poornima (name changed) said while speaking to The News Minute, “We do hectic work in three shifts starting from 6 am in the morning, but they come in at around 10 am and work till around 5 pm or 6 pm. Our workload is also more, but regardless of this, we are paid very less. We wouldn’t have been complaining about these issues if we had at least received our salaries on time.”
Not getting paid on time is not the only problem that these workers are facing, but also, they are working without any medical facilities. None of them have any basic health services of ESI (Employee State Insurance). On this the workers said, their contractor is a Kolkata based firm and workers have registered their ESI services in West Bengal, so they cannot avail its benefits in Kerala.
Representatives of the Railway Contract Catering and General Workers Union (RCCGWU) have also expressed their concerns toward the protestors and said, “These workers do not even get primary medical allowances like ESI. We will give a complaint to the Labour Commission regarding this issue at the Commission’s next sitting on March 18,” secretary of Ernakulam RCCGWU, Suresh, The News Minute reported.
Due to this issue, so many workers have left their job and existing ones are paying cost of it. The railway officials make others to work extra without giving any additional money. They work according to four shift timings- 6 am to 2 pm, 2 pm to 9 pm and from 9 pm to 6 am.
Liji, a native of Paraavur taluk in Ernakulam district told to The News Minute, “I am one of the staff who cleans railway tracks at the station and it is often disgusting to clean the garbage that is there. And I do this for the little salary that I get, to support my family, but now, even that money is not there. If there had been another option, I would not have continued the job here.”
How did the contractors react?
An official of Ernakulam Junction railway station said the contractors had promised to give the pending salary of workers in two days as they had some financial crunch, reported by The News Minute.
However, this is not the first time when these workers are complaining about due in disbursement, last December also the workers went on a similar strike for due wages and at that time as well the contractors gave same promise but only a few of them received money and that too not the full amount. This time the workers have decided to continue the strike until the due salaries are paid in full to all the employees. “This time we are not going to be fooled by fake promises”, said Liji.