The calling of strike by Jammu and Kashmir’s Public Health Engineering (PHE) department workers on government assurance comes as a big relief to the residents of Jammu city. The PHE workers have been on a strike since February 7. The over 18-days stand-off between PHE workers and government it was the people who were having hardships in the form of disrupted water supply. These workers have been working for the past many years and were awaiting regularization as assured by the government time to time besides the clearance of pending wages which are as old as over five years . Besides release of pending wages, they have been demanding regularisation of their jobs, filling up of vacant posts, repair and maintenance of faulty pumping houses and water stations, and basic facilities at water stations for the staff. For years, daily rated workers, who are the backbone of the PHE department, have been demanding regular wages. The work-charged employees had hoped that their demands would be met after the abrogation of Article 370, but the UT administration has done nothing so far to redress their grievances. The strike had impacted utility services, leading to a drinking water crisis in most parts of Jammu and Srinagar. With the suspension of water supply in many areas, even the public held protests in various Jammu City localities and criticized the PHE authorities for their failure to ensure adequate supply of water. The situation was grim in rural areas where people were forced to move to the traditional old water sources. There are estimated 22,000 daily rated workers in the Jammu division and 11,000 in the Kashmir valley. A majority of them have been protesting for years to demand regular salaries and regularisation of their jobs as had been promised to them by the previous state governments. It is hoped that the latest assurance will be result oriented.
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