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Non-Payment of Civic Staff Salaries Turns into Political Tussle

Salil Kale

16th September 2020

AAP supported the unpaid employees by protesting on their behalf. (Source: The New Indian Express.)

The civic staff of the three civic bodies-namely, the North, South and East Delhi Municipal Corporations- and from multiple departments are scheduling to go on strike for two hours every day as they have not received a salary from the government in months. Unpaid employees from all the departments have formed a confederation of employees’ unions, even taking in pensioners. Ram Niwas Solanki, Municipal Corporations Teachers’ Association general secretary, speaking to The Times of India, asks, “We don’t want the work to suffer but without pay, how can we continue?”.

The protesting civil staff refused to align with any one party. However, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) staged their own protests in support of the unpaid employees, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had their own rally going against the Delhi AAP Government. Durgesh Pathak, an AAP party member said, “the BJP should stop misleading people. AAP will run the civic bodies better with the existing budget”. He also stated that the condition of the employees’ families is serious. Senior Congress councillor Mukesh Goyal also chimed in, saying that both AAP and BJP were going into the issue not to find a solution, but to play party politics.

The civil staff, who have been risking their lives during this pandemic, only look to being paid for the work that they have been doing so dedicatedly. In a report by The Times of India, Lalit Gupta, who has been serving in the corporation for almost 28 years at the Assistant Deputy Commissioner’s Office says, “My father retired as deputy commissioner from the municipal corporation and after his death, my mother started receiving his pension. But for five months now, the pension has not been released. In this time, we have exhausted our savings on household needs. There is no money now for my mother’s medical needs”. This is just one of many grievances from the employees’ side.

Thousands of employees are struggling to make ends meet. AAP councillor and leader of the opposition in the north Vikas Goel has blamed corruption for this issue. He told The Times of India, “The problem has nothing to do with the Delhi Government. AAP supports the demand of the agitating employees to be paid regularly. The mayor might be unwell, but why are the BJP members silent?”.

BJP councillor and leader of the house had one response, saying that the salary for class 4 employees would be released from Monday. He retaliated, “As far as allegations of corruption are concerned, when the government is not releasing our share of funds, where is the money for misuse?”.

(Sources: Times of India, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express.)

Edited by Pratheek S

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