We end this week with our focus on the plight & suffering of sanitation workers. A sanitation worker suffers from low pay, hazardous working conditions, often resulting in death. Sanitation workers have no safety equipment or protective gear, no health protection and are extremely vulnerable to accidents and health ailments (such as viruses, asthma, skin rashes) due to lack of mechanical equipment. Moreover, poor urban planning in our city.
Land occupation has resulted in impossibility of machinery & equipment to be brought near sites; often workers have to clean the sewers manually. Sanitation workers are continuously ignored in government polices & development initiatives, where large sanitation programs. are developed talking about infrastructure, but don’t include much for workers. 80% of workers are from religious minority communities, facing extensive discrimination-& are often called dirty or unclean.
Often Muslim workers receive contracts, which are then passed informally to minority faith persons. The social attitude & taboos around sanitation work contribute to their marginalisation; even doctors often refuse to treat them. These workers are stuck in an unjust system, where most work without permanent contracts, without minimum wage. While some workers are directly employed by cantonment boards, most are employed through temporary outsourced contracts.
The Sindh Solid Waste Management Board mostly outsources waste & sanitation services to Chinese companies which has severely impacted workers rights where sanitation workers aren’t getting permanent contracts, minimum wage or health insurance. We demand an institution of minimum wage across all waste companies & direct employment of workers by all waste management boards.
We demand provision of machinery for sanitary workers and safety equipment and protocols. Watch this space, as we speak to sanitation workers and release our demands officially.
Could you please pinpoint any specific grievance of sanitary workers where Municipal authorities failed to address?