Mumbai News

Bombay HC directs NMMC to pay daily allowances to cleaning workers engaged in Covid-19 duties – Times of India

MUMBAI: Slamming the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) for differentiating between contract ‘safai kamgars’ (cleaning workers) and regular employees carrying out Covid-19 related duties, the Bombay high court on Wednesday directed it to also pay the former daily special allowance of Rs 300.
“To say the least, this would be an extremely unfair and unjust yardstick to use, to value human lives differently,” said Justice Shahrukh Kathawalla, who pronounced his order via videoconference on a petition by Samata Kamgaar Sangh on behalf of 6,277 contractual workers who were not provided protective gear. Over 700 kamgars are working in 4 NMMC hospitals, 23 health posts and at cemeteries. Following the court’s earlier order, the issue was resolved.
The Sangh’s grievance was also that NMMC municipal commissioner on April 7, 2020 sanctioned Rs 300 as daily allowance to its workers and employees but not to the safai kamgars. NMMC said they are contract labourers employed by contractors. “In my view, the above stand of the corporation, is unfair, especially under the present circumstances,” noted Justice Kathawalla.
The judge said the risk taken by the employees / workers /kamgars in carrying out Covid- 19 related duties NMMC “cannot be differentiated / distinguished on their employment being directly with the Corporation or through the contractors.” He added that in distinguishing between its own employees and the kamgars, NMMC is seen to be making “a tacit statement that the kamgars “are either not ‘risking their lives’, or despite doing so, need to be paid differently only due to their employer being the contractor and not the corporation.”
“To say the least, this would be an extremely unfair and unjust yardstick to use, to value human lives differently,” the judge then said. He also said there can be various measures to reduce expenses rather than discriminating between employees and kamgars, both of whom are fulfilling their responsibilities by risking their lives.”
On May 15, the judge conveyed to NMMC’s advocate Sandeep Marne that “in present pandemic situation it is necessary for one and all to adopt a humane approach towards these Covid-19 warriors.” The deputy municipal commissioner replied that the list submitted by the Sangh’s advocates Bhavesh Parmar and Rahul Gaikwad contains names of kamgars who are not carrying out Covid-19 related duties. The DMC maintained that NMMC is not required to pay allowance to contract workers. Also, if the high court is of the view that allowance be paid to them, then NMMC be allowed to certify the kamgars involved in Covid-19 related duties and payment of special allowance be restricted to them based on their attendance.
Justice Kathawalla directed that the kamgars shall be “paid allowance per day at the rate paid to the other employees/workers” by NMMC. Also, special allowance shall be paid to NMMC certified kamgars based on their attendance.