Open letter to the CM, Karnataka about violations on pourakarmika workers by contractors.
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On June 2017, you announced in a public forum that the State government would regularise the services of 11,000 contract pourakarmika workers over the next three months and that civic workers who are getting a monthly salary of between Rs. 4000 and Rs. 5000 would get a minimum salary of Rs. 17,000 directly into their accounts.
These assurances came after a series of protests by the workers for regularisation and removal of the contract system.
In spite of all these assurances of yours, it is unacceptable that women have been publically harassed by the contractors in broad daylight and abused with sexually abusive language amounting to sexual harassment at work place, punishable under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at workplace Act (2013).
The police have been complicit in their delay and refusal to file charges and register an FIR against these contractors.
The BBMP, as principal employer, should have been at the foreground to book charges against these contractors who not only refuse to pay the workers their wages, refuse to give them the dignity that is the Constitutional right of every worker but also abuse them in public in sexually abusive language.
Last week, some contract Powrakarmikas in ward no 55 asked the contractor for salary and wages. His response was : Its in my pants , come and take it ! He also hurled casteist abuses and abused them. The BBMP Guttige Powrakarnikara Sangha complained to BBMP and the Social Welfare department . The social welfare department then visited the police station and asked the police to register an FIR against the contractor, but the KR Puram police did not take action. On 19th October , the contractor, who was infuriated that the workers complained, went with some 5 local goons and rods, assaulted a worker for complaining against him. He even removed his pant in full public view and said all kinds of obscene statements. He threatened to rape them and threatened sexual violence with a rod. ! He abused them saying " Madiga Soole makkla" Then when the public intervened, he chased the workers to the station .
The workers and the contractor were in the police station and the police refused to file an FIR. The representatives of the BBMP Guttige Powrakarmikara Sanghatane then rushed to the station and it was only after they protested that an FIR was registered. However, because of the delay in filing an FIR, the contractor had absconded by then.
This is the second time that a contractor has assaulted a powrakarmika in the last few months and with complete impunity.
These actions should be penalised under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act as well as the SC/ST Atrocity Act.
Inspite of difficult weather and working conditions, the pourakarmika workers have struggled to keep the city clean. As concerned citizens, we demand that the pourkarmika workers be given the same rights as any other citizen of the State and not treated as slaves by the government as well as by the contractors. We demand that the regularisation of the workers be done immediately and they be protected at all costs against abuse by the contractors. The women who have been assaulted should be adequately compensated by the BBMP and a public apology issued to the women workers.
We urge you to implement your promise to regularise the pourakarmika workers and strongly condemn and penalise any behaviour by the BBMP or the contractors, that puts the workers at risk.
Photo courtesy: Hari Adivarekar
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