Nearly 1,200 men have been employed by Metro on contract basis in various capacities— gangmen, sweepers, cleaners, coach cleaners, electrical maintenance and garden maintenance staff.
The staff alleged that even after 25 years of service, they are not given offs on national holidays, a weekly off, the 8.33 per cent mandatory bonus and 20 per cent house rent.
Incidentally, while most of the workers are associated with any of the three unions led by the Trinamool, Congress and CITU, only the Congress-led union has been actively campaigning for their cause.
Sunil Koley, secretary of the Congress-led union, met the Metro authorities in the morning to put forward the demands and said they had given the authorities time till June 25 to meet their demands. “Today we did not stall work but if our demands are not met then we will go on an indefinite strike from June 25 and will not let the authorities work,” said Koley.
He said after the Central order, they were supposed to get Rs 186 per day, but only the sweepers and cleaners were awarded the amount and the rest are paid only Rs 117 per day. Their other demands include a resting place for gangmen on night duty and tunnel allowance to all the workers.
“The air in the tunnel is poisonous and we spend 8-16 hours daily inside the tunnel. Nearly 90 per cent of the workers have breathing problems,” said Koley.
Metro rail authorities claimed they were not responsible for the contract workers and their contractors should address the issues.