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Cemetery staff to go on strike from May 1

Sunday, 25 April 2010 - 1:14am IST | Place: Mumbai

With the BMC not filling the vacancies, workers at cemeteries across the city are overworked; want overtime for the extra hours they put in, or more helping hands.

If you thought only those human beings that are alive have problems, think again. From May 1, even the dead may have to face some inconveniences.

The staff of the various civic cemeteries across the city has threatened to go on strike because of poor working conditions and shortage of manpower. The strike, if successful, could disrupt work at all the civic cemeteries in the city.

 There are about 400 staff members working in 56 cemeteries across the city, but according to the Municipal Mazdoor Union (MMU), the number is not sufficient.

“Due to shortage, the existing staff has to work for longer hours. Their leaves are cancelled and the BMC does not even pay overtime for the extra working hours,” said Ramakant Bane, secretary of MMU.

 At every cemetery, there is a death register karkoon (clerk), also known as a DRK, an electrician for electric crematorium, a furnace operator and labourers.

“There is round-the-clock work in a cemetery and therefore there is a need for more people, so that the working hours can be adjusted and the leaves can be managed. Currently, there is a severe shortage of staff to ensure the smooth working in a cemetery. The current staff is over-worked. We are not demanding something extraordinary. The posts are lying vacant in all cemeteries and all the BMC has to do is fill the vacant posts,” Bane added.

The civic body runs 56 cemeteries, which are run manually, and an additional 10 electric cemeteries. These include cemeteries for people belonging to all religions including Hindus, Muslims, Parsis and Christians.

In addition to that, there are another 50 cemeteries operated by Non Government Organisations (NGO) or private bodies. In the civic run cemeteries, there are 400 staff members, out of which 70 are DRKs, 18 electricians, 60 furnace operator and about 250 labours.

But according to the MMU, there is a requirement for another 40 DRKs, 4 electricians and 10 furnace operators. The BMC has so far not filled these vacant positions.

“It is very unfortunate that we have to close the cemeteries to put forth our demands. Cemeteries are of immense sentimental value to people of all religion. However, we do not have any other way to get the authorities to pay heed to our demands,” Bane said.

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