HYDERABAD: Human rights activists have demanded bounding of contractors to get sanitary workers registered with social security institutions so they get facilities. There is a provision that in case of death of sanitation workers, they may get Rs 500,000 as compensation as per the social security laws. Apart from this, there should be a budget allocation for the social wellbeing of these poor workers, who are considered as untouchable.
The rights activists were speaking at the provincial conference “Stand up for the rights of sanitary workers” on the occasion of international human rights day at a local hotel on Monday. The event was jointly organized by Strengthening Participatory Organisation and Sindh Human Rights commission (SHRC).
Justice (r) Majida Razvi chaired the conference; while Zulfiqar Shah, Joint Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER); Shafiq Ghauri, President Sindh Labour Federation; Amar Sindhu, social activist; Pirbhu Satyani, SPO Regional Coordinator; researcher Zeenia Shaukt; community activist Boota Imtiaz; Human Rights Defenders Punhal Sario, Zulfiqar Halepoto, M Parkash Advocate and others spoke on the occasion. They under the need for promotion of social well-being of sanitary workers in Sindh, who are facing hardships in terms of health risk.
Justice (r) Majida Rizvi, Chairperson Sindh Human Rights Commission (SCHC) said the commission receives more cases of sanitary workers, who work without safety kits during manhole cleaning. They look vulnerable in terms of unavailability of safety kits and proper wages and clean gutters, she said.
Now SPO and SHRC are going to distribute safety kits among 250 sanitary workers in Hyderabad. But the main problems facing sanitary workers, include job security, wages, health insurance, law amendments. We want to ensure rights and safety of these workers on equal basis. The SHRC wants to help them in legislation designing, we are conducting research to see gaps in legislation and provision of health insurance either group short time basis so they may stay safe.
She said Sindh government has formulated compensation mechanism for these workers, but they are unable to implement the same. We are working to see the law and want to get it implemented soon, she assured.
Zulfiqar Shah, Joint Director PILER sharing research findings said there is importance of these workers in environment maintenance. In case these workers leave this work in protest we cannot imagine how the people may face hardships. Thus the government should take initiative.
Sanitary workers work under unclear legal framework, employment procedure. He said some employees in this specific work are associated with local government while others work with municipal corporations, TMAs and others. But they have unclear jobs. For example, WASA Hyderabad says they have only 70 sanitary workers, because they do not recruit more sanitary workers as per requirement. These workers are not regular and do not receive pension or other facilities.
Shafiq Ghauri, President Sindh Labour Federation said the main demand of the sanitary workers should be to make them confirmed employees with all facilities like other employees enjoy. He pointed out that the government depends on contractors for hiring these workers on daily wages.
These contractors are not responsible while they die during duty or get injured. The government may regularize them and they should be provided pensions and packages. Contractors should be bound to register these workers with social security so they may get medical facility.
The government should sign documents with contractors about these facilities. In case of injury or death, the sanitary workers should be compensated equal to Rs 500,000. Apart from this, Ghauri said development of sanitary workers should be linked with welfare fund received from corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR fund should be used for welfare of these workers. They must be prioritized for welfare of these workers.