Mangaluru, June 16, 2018: On June 14,Thursday, the sanitation workers of Antony Waste Management Company protested and refused to collect garbage here, accusing the company of not paying them their salaries. Due to this protest, garbage collection was not conducted in Mangaluru on June 15,Friday.
“Unless and until all the workers receive their monthly salaries, we will not report to work,” informed the protesting workers of Antony institution. “The 2.10 crore rupees to be paid by MCC to Antony institution was paid on Thursday afternoon, therefore garbage collection will resume like usual on Friday,” informed sources from MCC.
Rain worsens situation : The sanitation workers left out to collect garbage but then parked their vehicles at Kulur yard and refused to collect the garbage. Because of this, garbage started piling up all throughout Mangaluru. Heaps of waste could be seen at Mangaluru market and other places. Amidst this, the continuous rains only worsened the situation by mixing with the waste and giving rise to obnoxious stench.
“Every month there has been no one who gives ears to the problems of the workers. They are not fulfilling the demand of giving the monthly salary on a particular day. We received April salary on May 28th. This month, the salary should have been given by June 10th. There is still no sign of it. Only by protesting and not collecting the garbage can we bring forth our problem. Therefore, garbage collection was not conducted on Thursday,” said a worker.
“There are nearly 600 workers giving their service in the company. There is information that MCC has paid the money to the company. Once the amount is distributed into the accounts of the workers, the garbage collection will resume from Friday,” he informed.
MCC negligent : This is not the first time the workers are protesting on not receiving their salaries due to the bickering between MCC and Antony waste management company. A similar situation was created last November too. The workers protested for 2 days by not collecting the waste. In 2016, a similar strike was done by the workers due to which garbage collection had come to a standstill. A similar protest took place a couple of times more. MCC realized that the workers were conducting the protest due to not availing their salary and at the last moment intervened and paid up the remaining amount. In the last year-and-a-half, the city has witnessed this type of delay in salary payment to the workers due to which they have protested 5-6 times.
Garbage collection to resume : The monthly amount of 2.10 crore rupees that was to be paid to Antony institution was paid through a cheque on June 14, Thursday evening. Due to the model code of conduct in force and the pressure on the officials due to other works, it was not possible to provide the money. On the backdrop of the money given, the garbage collection will continue as per usual.” informed Naveen D’Souza, president, health statistics committee, MCC.
‘MCC not adhering to contract :
Antony Waste Handling Cell Pvt., Ltd., which bagged a seven-year contract to lift and manage solid waste in Mangaluru, is planning to approach the Karnataka High Court seeking appointment of an arbitrator to resolve its grievances with the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC).
Though the DK DC is the arbitrator appointed under the contract, Antony Waste’s three applications under the Arbitration Act, the latest being two months ago, have not been considered, said the contractor’s legal adviser, Vivekananda Paniyal.
The company may ask the court to appoint a retired High Court or district judge as the arbitrator.
“We did not come through the back door but through a global tender, ratified by the MCC Council and approved by the State government. Owing to the MCC’s inability to handle solid waste, it invited experts in the field. We invested close to Rs. 40 crore on infrastructure and other aspects before starting work,” Adv. Paniyal said.
Instead of treating the private partner with dignity, MCC has pushed Antony Waste to the brink with randomly deducted and delayed payments of monthly bills without assigning any reasons, he said.
While the average monthly bill would be about Rs. 3.5 crore, average payments would be around Rs. 2 crore and MCC does not cite any contractual clause to impose penalty, Adv Paniyal added.
Dedications have been unilateral without hearing the company and 10 notices under the contract to MCC have remained unanswered, Adv Paniyal said.
Like many other cities, garbage mafia appears to be thriving in Mangaluru too, which is simmering with discontent ever since the PPP partner came in, he alleged. The seven-year contract being a concession agreement should have been administered by a team of experts in MCC, he claimed. “Antony Waste has become the victim of MCC’s fiscal indiscipline.” Mr. Paniyal said he was not blaming any individual officers; but the system.
DK DC S. Sasikanth Senthil said he will look into the issue of arbitration failure.