The latest agitation came from the disillusioned workers contracted with the discoms governed by the BSES. On Thursday evening, they shut off the electricity to several power substations, plunging into darkness lakhs of residents in the southern and western parts of Delhi.
The workers were protesting against the government for not fulfilling its pledge of regularising their contractual jobs. The strike was held off for two days after the government reached out to them. This was, however, only a prelude – the workers warned that their strike will continue if the government fails to act.
“All other services would continue to remain suspended,” union general secretary DC Kapil was quoted as saying by the Times of India. “Only power has been restored. But this is also for just two days. If our demands are not met, we will go back to a full blackout of Delhi.”
Just a few days ago, garbage had piled on the city’s roads, with a foul stench filling its air, as sanitation workers of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi struck work over non-payment of wages for months. While the Delhi government blamed the Centre for not providing it with enough funds to pay for the city’s upkeep, the Centre blamed it back.
As expected, the battle reached the court and the High Court directed the Aam Aadmi Party to disburse the pending salaries by June 15, ending the strike.
However, it is unlikely that Delhiites will be able to breathe easy for long. According to the government, it paid the municipal corporation Rs 513 crore on June 11 to pay the salaries only for April-May. Already, the sanitation workers have indicated their intent to strike work for an indefinite period from June 26 over various demands. To make things worse, they have promised to put the garbage back on the capital’s streets once more.
Angry teachers, disgruntled doctors
Even some educators aren’t too happy with the AAP administration, as was evidenced by the strike by the unions of primary schools teachers under the East Delhi Municipal Corporation in March over non-payment of salaries. The protest was called off after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led civic body paid the dues while running a deficit of Rs 300 crore.
For the first time in its 13-year history, the Delhi Metro staff also picketed against the government, demanding better salaries, as the government issued prohibitory orders and enforced section 144 in Metro and adjoining areas. Since the beginning of May, the staff was wearing black armbands as a mark of protest and almost 2,500 non-executive staff members of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation chose to implement a “fast-and-work” policy from May 27 while demanding job security, better pay and a more accountable Staff Council.
Not long after, unionised auto drivers went on a strike against a set of regulations, including one that makes the public service vehicle badge mandatory for them and taxi drivers. Bolstered by support from Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken, the auto drivers threatened to launch a hunger strike right outside the chief minister’s house against AAP government policies.
This wasn't all. Public health services were hit because of a strike by doctors and nurses at several hospitals under the city’s municipal corporation over non-payment of salaries in March. Worst affected were Hindu Rao Hospital and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.
The strike is set to return, only larger, starting June 22, as over 15,000 doctors are expected to go off-duty to protest against the government’s failure to fulfil their demands. The doctors are agitating against shortage of life-saving drugs, poor working conditions, lack of accommodation facilities, among other things.
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