Unmet for Past 3 Years, Guwahati Municipal Workers Reiterate Demand of Permanent Employment

In 2021, the Guwahati development department approved converting 1,561 temporary positions within the municipal corporation to permanent roles. However, reports indicate that only 500 workers received permanent status.
Unmet for Past 3 Years, Guwahati Municipal Workers Reiterate Demand of Permanent Employment

Guwahati- Municipal corporation workers in the city are once again amplifying their calls for attention to their concerns. Their demands, which have persisted over time, primarily revolve around the elimination of contractual employment.

In 2021, the Guwahati Development Department turned 1,561 temporary position in the municipal corporation into permanent jobs.

The decision was expected to provide much-needed stability and security to a large portion of the workforce. However, despite this approval, the implementation fell short of expectations.

According to local media, only 500 out of the 1,561 workers were actually granted permanent status, leaving a substantial number of employees in limbo.

Moreover, the frustration among workers was compounded by the lack of promotions based on merit or educational qualifications.

Instead of recognizing and rewarding employees' hard work and dedication, promotions seemed to be either stalled or granted "arbitrarily", without considering individuals' performance or qualifications.

As a result, a sense of uncertainty permeated the workforce, with over 1,000 workers still awaiting clarity on their employment status and career progression.

The Mooknayak talked to the office of Dr Preetam Kumar Das, senior medical and health officer at the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), who agreed with the data.

They revealed that the temporary positions were supposed to be turned permanent in batches. The first and the only batch of conversion took place in 2021.

Since then, it has been almost three years, and no conversion is in sight yet.

The office further revealed that almost 60% of the workers in their department are either contractual or daily wage earners.

The contractual system not only jeopardizes the financial stability of the workers but also poses risks to their health and safety.

The annual session of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation Workers’ Association raised the issues faced by the workers of the corporation in the city.

The members discussed a report detailing the challenges workers encounter, highlighting the lack of response from authorities despite previous submissions. Some of the key issues are as follows:

Job security for contractual and temporary workers: The association called for the conversion of temporary positions into permanent ones to ensure job security and benefits for workers who have been serving on a contractual basis.

Merit-based promotions: Workers stressed the importance of promotions being based on merit and performance rather than on "tenure" or "favoritism". This would ensure fairness and encourage employees to strive for excellence.

Timely pension payments: Concerns were raised over delayed pension payments, with retirees urging authorities to ensure they receive their dues promptly. Timely pension payments are crucial for the financial security of retired workers.

According to the GMC Workers’ Association, the corporation recruited new temporary workers without prioritizing the stabilization and advancement of existing contractual employees who "have dedicated years to their roles".

"This approach," according to the association, "diminishes the prospects of experienced workers for obtaining secure employment".

"Moreover, despite approval from the Assam chief minister to augment the workforce by 208 positions across different departments of the municipal corporation, no steps have been initiated by the GMC to enact these adjustments," the association further stated.

The executive committee has determined to "engage municipal authorities in dialogue regarding the grievances and pursue remedies".

"If deemed necessary, we are prepared to take additional measures to secure justice for municipal workers," it said.

According to a report published in The Sentinel, Chandan Sarma, who is the convenor of the GMC Workers' Union, highlighted a pressing concern regarding the employment status of nearly 2000 workers within the GMC.

He said, "These workers, crucial for upholding the cleanliness standards of the city, operate on a contractual basis. Despite their pivotal role, especially evident during the Covid-19 pandemic when they diligently continued garbage collection and road cleaning duties despite health hazards, their employment situation remains precarious."

He emphasized the GMC's lack of consideration for the challenges faced by these contractual workers. Despite their consistent efforts and contributions to maintaining public health and cleanliness, the authorities have seemingly overlooked their plight.

Sarma stressed the importance of addressing this issue by advocating for the regularization of these employees' positions.

The contractual system not only jeopardizes the financial stability of the workers but also poses risks to their health and safety as well.

During March 2024, the GMC and the Public Works Department undertook the task of desilting the city's drains to address artificial flooding. Despite the endeavors of these entities, the workers participating in the desilting operations were deprived of the protective gear they rightfully deserved for executing their duties.

The GMC allocated the desiltation task to various contractors for a total of Rs 22 crore. It was the contractors' responsibility to supply the workers with essential gear such as gloves, face masks, and reflective jackets.

However, they proceeded with the work without providing any of these necessary items.

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