Over 700 sanitation workers who diligently extended their services throughout the pandemic were reportedly sacked in Tamil Nadu, by the Greater Chennai Corporation, without any notice period on Tuesday.
The move comes ahead of the most awaited festival Pongal. The state government drew flak from various quarters with enraged frontline workers holding protests, reported The News Minute.
The decision comes a few months after the Chennai Corporation handed over the solid waste management in various zones to private players. The solid waste management at various zones such as Adyar, Teynampet, Kodambakkam, Alandur, Valasaravakkam, Sholinganallur and Perungudi is going to be handled by the private players.
Many of the workers told media that they had been working for 10 to 12 years with the civic body and that they cannot accept such sudden removal. Others pointed out that the workers had even contracted COVID-19 while on their jobs, but came back to work immediately after recovery.
Saroja, one of the protestors said that she got the job which his husband was doing before he died. "During the coronavirus pandemic and Cyclone Vardah, they asked me to work. My whole family depends on me, I worked hard."
Other workers said that they were neither paid wages nor granted leave despite showing up regularly for the last 10 years. Many even had to face social stigma after contracting COVID-19 due to their job and were even forced to vacate houses.
The opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has hit out at the ruling AIADMK government and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
"COVID-19 warriors are celebrated across the state but the EPS govt has decided to terminate the services of 700 sanitation workers in Chennai. Firing them without even a notice period, especially when unemployment is rife, is cruel given we depended on them during the pandemic. This is the gratitude they get, especially on the eve of Pongal," DMK MP Kanimozhi tweeted.