SMC presses men without salaries into action

SMC casual labourers clearing snow from footpaths in Srinagar. -Excelsior/Shakeel
SMC casual labourers clearing snow from footpaths in Srinagar. -Excelsior/Shakeel

Irfan Tramboo
Srinagar, Nov 8: After not bothering to clear the roads in Srinagar city on Thursday post heavy snowfall in Valley, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) today pressed into action its casual labourers, who have not been paid even a single penny for the last more than 4 months.
Scores of such employees carrying shovels and other equipments were today seen clearing the roads in Lal Chowk and other parts of the city, in spite of the fact that they are just living on the hope of getting their salaries one day.
Ali Mohammad, 42, an employee working in the department as a casual labourer for the last more than 10 years told Excelsior that he along with several other labourers are just living and carrying on with a hope of someday getting paid-the day which, he said, hasn’t come as yet.
“There are hundreds of such labourers who are out on streets as of now clearing snow in difficult situations across the city, but nobody seems to be giving any attention to our woes that we are suffering even after doing our job,” he said, while clearing the snow.
There are more than 25 casual labourers working alone in Lal Chowk Ward of SMC-while there are hundreds of such employees working across Srinagar city-usually pressed into action during such eventualities.
Apart from not being paid the salaries, these employees are also under-paid in every manner and do not fall under any scheme which could have covered their occupational hazards. On the other hand, while the regular employees are getting more than Rs 30,000 as salary and that too on time, without much workload, the casual labourers are on the frontlines, without salaries with additional workload.
“When we are not even getting our hard earned salaries, there is no question of getting any benefits from the department; at times, we feel disheartened when we see our fellow employees working shoulder to shoulder, getting paid at every month and we get nothing,” said another employee, Mohammad Ayoub, working in the department for last more than 7 years, adding that even getting hold of hard earned salary seems utterly difficult.
The employees said that this is a norm of the administration with them that they get the salaries after the intervals of 6-8 months. “They make us suffer for want of few thousand rupees every time-our family suffers, we are suffering,” he said.