Karnataka Government fails to pay salaries to Covid warriors

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The State government has declared civic and sanitisation workers as frontline Covid warriors

Madikeri: The State government has declared civic and sanitisation workers as frontline Covid warriors. But this fancy tag has hardly helped change their lot as the Covid warriors are not receiving salary regularly.

More than 300 sanitation staff, Group D, non-cleaning staff, drivers, lab technicians, nurses and security guards are working in the district hospital in Madikeri and other hospitals in Virajpet, Somwarpet, Shanivarasanthe, Palibetta, Napoklu, Siddapura and Kutta, on contract basis.

But the staff and Group D workers are not being paid the minimum wages fixed by the government. When contacted, sanitisation staff employees union district unit president P R Bharat alleged that the workers were at the mercy of the contractors. "The government promised to pay Rs 10,000 to each Covid warrior. But, the promise has not been fulfilled. Hospitals recruit workers through outsourcing agencies who resort to exploitation of the jobless poor. He alleged that the district administration appointed more than 100 workers in April 2020 following the outbreak of Corona. But they did not receive salary for last three months.

The condition of gram panchayat workers is even worse. There are more than 700 working in 101 GPs in the district. The State government has fixed Rs 12,000 as minimum wage for a waterman and Rs 15,000 for sanitisation workers. But they are getting 50 percent of the minimum wages that too not on time. For example, employees in Nalkeri GP under Ponnampet

taluk have not received salary for eight months. Kanur GP has not paid salary for the last four months.

The GPs claim they don't have sufficient funds due to huge dente in their revenue because of Covid-induced lockdown. The district contract workers association has urged government to provide a monthly salary of Rs 18,000 to all contract workers, release of arrears immediately. They demand appointment of workers directly and provision of uniforms, gloves and other equipment. ESI and PF facility should be given to them, the association said and warned of agitation if their demand not met within next 15 days.

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