Cleaning Workers Demand Fair Wages: Protests Emerge in Hospitals of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan

Cleaning Workers Demand Fair Wages: Protests Emerge in Hospitals of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan

In Lucknow, workers at Balrampur hospital staged protests, citing dissatisfaction with their current pay rates. Similarly, in Rajasthan, cleaning staff at Jalore civil hospital have raised their voices, highlighting the issue of inadequate compensation.

Lucknow- In both Lucknow and Jalore, the plight of cleaning workers has garnered attention due to ongoing protests and strikes over long-standing grievances.

Whether it's the sanitation workers at Balrampur Hospital in Lucknow or the cleaning staff at the general hospital in Jalore, the common thread is a struggle for fair wages, timely payments, and better working conditions. Despite their crucial role in maintaining hygiene and sanitation, these workers find themselves grappling with systemic issues that have remained unresolved for far too long.

In Lucknow, cleaning workers employed by an organisation (placement service) at Balrampur Hospital brought their work to a halt on Monday afternoon, staging a demonstration in front of the Director's office. Their primary grievance was the alleged disparity in wages compared to other institutions within the cleaning agency.

The cleaning operations in government hospitals are outsourced to Sun Facility, with 150 employees from this company stationed at Balrampur Hospital. The sweepers here are reportedly receiving a monthly salary of approximately Rs. 7,300, significantly lower than the Rs. 10,000 received by their counterparts in other institutions. An employee, speaking to The Mooknayak, emphasized the stagnation in their salaries despite their long-standing service at Balrampur Hospital.

Continuing, the employee lamented, "I have been part of this workforce since 2016. Back then, the contract was held by BSS (Blew Solution Service), where supervisors were paid a mere Rs. 12,000 and other workers Rs. 6,200. With subsequent contractors like SIS (Service Master Clean Service), while the supervisor's salary increased slightly to Rs. 12,500, other sanitation workers saw a mere Rs. 300 increment to Rs. 6,500. Even with the advent of Sun Facility in 2022, the situation hasn't improved much. Presently, supervisors earn only Rs. 13,000 monthly, while sanitation workers receive a meager Rs. 7,000. Although other employees saw a 5 percent increment in 2023, their salary stands at Rs. 7,300, still below par."

Upon being informed about the demonstration, the agency operator swiftly arrived at the scene and assured the employees of a 5 percent salary increase. Consequently, the employees resumed their duties. Company director RK Tiwari mentioned that the issue of salary hikes for sweepers has been escalated to the government, and they await permission to effect the change.

In Jalore district of Rajasthan, protests have persisted for the past six months.

The general hospital in Jalore has remained uncleaned for three consecutive days as the cleaning workers have been on strike. Their primary concern revolves around the long-standing issue of unpaid salaries. Despite attempting to address their grievances by meeting with the PMO of the hospital, they were met with rebuke and dismissal. Undeterred, they persisted in their efforts by meeting with the PMO again on Monday to discuss their demands for a salary increase. However, their attempts were thwarted as the PMO appeared to avoid them the following day.

One of the cleaning workers, Khushal, highlighted their plight, emphasizing the chronic delays in receiving payment from the contracted firm. Despite their persistent demands for a salary hike over several months, their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

Media reports shed light on the concerning trend of awarding contracts for cleaning and other services at Jalore Hospital to various firms owned by the same individual, Vachanaram Garg, over the past 18 years. This marks the fourth strike by sanitation workers within the last six months, indicating a systemic issue of neglect by the contracted firm and consistent delays in receiving remuneration.

In response to these grievances, PMO Dr. Poonam Tank acknowledged the lack of resolution but assured that efforts are underway to address the situation promptly. Dr. Tank clarified that payments are promptly disbursed to the contracted firm from their end and emphasized that the firm has been instructed to expedite the payment of salaries to the sanitation workers.

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