On Monday, over 230 Class IV workers including the Tower of Silence’s pallbearers sported red Gandhi topis with their union’s name “Mumbai Mazdoor Sabha“ emblazoned across. This was the first phase of a peaceful protest, which will escalate into a strike if the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) continues to evade their demands for higher wages, retirement benefits, pension and accommodation.
Article by Nergish Sunavala | Times Of India
These workers, employed in Parsi baugs and the Doongerwadi as sweepers, watchmen, gardeners, hearse drivers and pallbearers, submitted their demands to the BPP last year but negotiations on their new service contracts have still to begin.
“We have done a cost analysis which has taken time,“ explains trustee Yazdi Desai. “They have asked for a 57-65% increase, which we aren’t com ortable with.“ The trustees have a counter proposal of a 7% hike, which will be discussed at the Tuesday board meeting, he added. However, BPP Chairman Dinshaw Mehta blamed Desai and a few other trustees or the delay . “They don’t have the courtesy to even meet them. It’s ridiculous,“ he said ad ding that the union’s initial de mands are always “inflated“.
In the event of a strike, fu nerals at the Doongerwadi wil come to a standstill with no one to carry the bodies to their fina resting place. “Khandias (Par si pallbearers) should be con sidered at par with priests be cause they play an importan role in disposing the dead,“ ex plains the general secretary of the Mumbai Mazdoor Sabha Dhunji Naterwalla. But they are treated as “untouchables“.
On Monday , angry emails were exchanged. Desai ac cused Mehta of “aiding and ab etting“ the agitation, while Mehta blamed Desai’s “intran sigence“ and his wife’s “inter ference in Doongerwadi affai rs“. Desai replied that his wife only accompanied other trust ees to supervise the removal of garbage. Naterwalla, however blames this infighting within the BPP for the delay .