Ahmedabad: Update on Strike by Safai Kamdars of AMC – Government Accepts all Demands

August 31, 2016

 

A report from Pratik Sinha

 

Sept 27: 

 

The Rasta Roko Andolan this morning at Income Tax circle in Ahmedabad was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After 36 days of strike by Safai Kamdar of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for permanency of jobs and other related demands, the Government finally caved in today and accepted all the demands.

The women have been been the cornerstone of the Safai Kamdar movement. It’d be difficult to find a more militant lot. Gujarat Police will bear testimony to that fact. More than the men, it is the women who gave Gujarat Police the sweats. Everyday, one or two women would have to be admitted to the hospital because of rough handling by the police. But nothing deterred them. Nothing at all. Nari Shakti Zindabad.

 

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Today, workers of Ahmedahad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) did a Rasta Roko Andolan at Income Tax Circle in Ahmedabad to protest against the anti-labour policies of the Government. While Safai Kamdar of AMC have been on strike for 36 days now for their demands of permanency of jobs, AMTS drivers and conductors have been protesting since yesterday against contracturization and privatization. Police was deployed in huge numbers and they manhandled many of the protestors. In this video you can see a Dalit woman who is a safai kamdar being rendered unconscious because of police atrocities.

 

Sept 26: 4 pm

 

Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha (GMS), Gujarat Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) and Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM) have announced a Rasta Roko Andolan at Income Tax Circle in Ahmedabad on 27th September, 2016. This decision was taken after a day long of detention at Shahibaug Police Stadium in Ahmedabad where over 1500 people were detained. RDAM had announced a protest in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) office in support of the Safai Kamdar (sanitation workers) of AMC who have been on a strike for the past 35 days for permanency of jobs under the banner of GMS, GFTU and JSM. Repeated attempts of negotiations with the AMC officials have failed with AMC officials refusing to accept the complete list of demands of the sanitation workers. The gates of AMC were locked before the protest could start and the police started rounding up people within 15-20 minutes of the protest. The police today beat up many of the workers who were protesting peacefully including a pregnant woman. One of the AMC woman worker had to be admitted to Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad with a head injury.

Drivers and conductors of Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) also joined forces with AMC workers and got themselves detained. AMTS workers were also detained earlier in the morning by Gujarat Police when they were in a protest against contractarization and privatization at Jamalpur. Gujarat Government has money for all sorts of gimmicks including throwing a birthday bash for the Prime Minister but doesn’t have money for workers who keep this city running. Join in huge numbers to make the Rasta Roko Andolan successful and to defeat this anti-worker, anti-labour, anti-dalit Gujarat Model.

 

Sept. 26:

35th day of strike by Safai Kamdar of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) under the banner of Gujarat Federation of Trade Unions, Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha and Jan Sangharsh Manch. Huge protest in front of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation office in Danapith, Ahmedabad. Today Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch and Jignesh’s team have extended support to the Safai Kamdar strike by calling for a Gherao of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. AMC got scared and has locked all its gates. Huge police deployment.

Currently over 500 people have been detained by Gujarat Police in Shahibaug Police stadium in Ahmedabad. All these people were part of a protest by Safai Kamdar of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation who have been on strike since August 22nd demanding permanency of jobs.

According to Jignesh Mevani: “One more pregnant dalit woman (sanitation worker) agitating outside Ahmadabad Municipal Corporation for permanency in job is beaten up by Gujarat police. Today under the banner of Jan sangharsh Manch and Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch demonstration was planned for their labour rights. Third time in a week we are detained. In Gujarat there is no place for peaceful demonstration. One police man was reportedly standing on the chest of an aged sanitation worker.”

 

Sept. 8: Update on strike of safai kamdars

Safai Kamdar (sanitation workers) of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) have been on a strike to demand permanency of work since August 22nd under the banner of Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha, Gujarat Federation of Trade Unions and Jan Sangharsh Manch. In the entire west zone of Ahmedabad, not a single safai kamdar has a permanent job, no health coverage, no paid leaves…nothing. The BJP ruled AMC in order to break the strike sacked 20 safai kamdar. Yesterday, the Industrial Tribunal Court in Ahmedabad stayed the decision of AMC to sack the 20 workers but today the shameless AMC sacked yet another 5 workers.

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Aug 31, Ahmedabad: Joint Press Conference on ongoing strike by safai kamdars of AMC

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Today, a joint press conference was held at the office of Jan Sangharsh Manch in Ahmedabad by Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha (GMS), Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) and Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samit (UDALS). Hiten Makwana, who is the leader of the safai kamdar (sanitation workers) of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) represented GMS while Nirjhari Sinha and Jignesh Mevani represented JSM and UDALs respectively.

The press conference was held to talk about the ongoing strike by safai kamdars of AMC which started on 22nd August, 2016 and entered its 8th day today. Yesterday, around 30 safai kamdars including 4 ladies were first detained by Gujarat Police for long hours for the simple act of protesting and an FIR was registered late in the night. While detaining the safai kamdars, police abused and manhandled the workers. Even the women were manhandled and no lady constable or officer was present in the police van that took them to Police Stadium in Shahibaug Ahmedabad. Some safai workers including a couple of women also suffered injuries. They were detained in the stadium for over 12 hours with no facilities for toilets.

Hiten Makwana stated that the main demand of the protest is permanency of jobs. Safai Kaam (Sanitation work) which is permanent in nature does not have a single permanent employee in the West Zone of Ahmedabad and the workers are deprived of all the benefits that come with a permanent job including health, residency and retirement benefits etc. Instead of following the principle of equal wage for equal work, these workers are firstly forced to work as daily wagers and paid much reduced wages as compared to permanent workers. Hiten Makwana also demanded that action should be taken against the police men who manhandled the workers including women.

Nirjhari Sinha pointed out that even though sanitation work is defined as an essential service, the lives of safai kamdar are not considered essential. They work in the most adverse conditions from cleaning gutters to picking garbage to spraying anti-malarial drugs, all of which lead to severe health issues, but the terms of employment does not even give them any health coverage.

Jignesh Mevani stated that in many Municipal Corporations/Municipalities, even minimum wages are not paid and the authorities can be held under Atrocities act for the same. He also stated that the fight is both against caste system as well as for alternative sustenance which includes jobs and agricultural land. He demanded that Government should act on the list of demands that UDALS has submitted to the Gujarat Government, each of them being constitutional demands. He also extended solidarity to the strike by AMC workers.

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August 28:

Around 20 Safai Kamdar (sanitation workers) of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation were lathi-charged and detained by Gujarat Police today. This is a photo from football ground in Shahibaug police stadium in Ahmedabad. The workers are on strike for six days now to demand permanency of jobs.

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Report in newspaper:

safai_report