Speakers, including elected legislators, representatives of Water and Sanitation Authority (WASA), Social Welfare department, Labour Department and civil society on Thursday realised to work together and design Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for sanitary workers.
They were discussing at a introductory meeting of Project Steering Forum for promotion of social well being of sanitary workers, held at a local hotel here. The meeting organized by Strengthening Participatory Organization(SPO) and chaired by Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi, chairperson Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC).
They came to the point collectively that SOP should be made to take measures to help these people, who are vulnerable to health hazards, and work at risk of their lives. Major departments mainly Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, WASA, Town committees and others should work in collaboration with community activists and organizations to ensure safety measures and job security of these people.
Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi asked participants to present documentation if somebody have to the SHRC so they may take action. She wanted community activists to inform the SHRC with evidence if there is any violation at the part of government and private institutions.
She realized the fact that regular employees are sitting at homes, muqdams, (supervisors) seem busy in minting money, by setting trend of half salary to workers. It was highly condemnable that in some organizations regular employees sit at homes while hired employees work in difficult situation in which they take risk and lose life. It is manipulation, exploiting workers, we need relief to the people, she emphasised.
Muzzafar Hussain Memon Managing Director WASA talked on the issues said
they have only 70 are regularized sanitary workers, while others are being hired as per need through supervisors. He said WASA pays more amount for this work but here he listened as if there is violation. He made it clear that if there is any exploitation committed by supervisors, WASA is not responsible. He said out of 70 workers, 80 percent are over age. We cannot force them to move inside sewage line. He said there should be a Law passed by the assembly to compensate to these people. For this, he assured to provide safety measures.
Earlier, Boota Imtiaz, a social activist said it is a voice of oppressed people they are neglected and innocent. They are most exploited and we want the government institutions to set rules for well-being of these communities, he said.
Pirbhu Satyani, SPO regional head in his brief presentation highlighted that the world nations have set rules for these people. There is no provision to force these people to go in manholes, which have horrible and poisonous gases in which they mostly face hardships.
He gave references of recent incidents in which sanitary workers have lost lives but there was no compensation for them.
He said they have health issues, accidental deaths and deduction of salaries and wages in case of absences of safety kits. He also mentioned that the Sindh sanitation policy 2017 and national sanitation policy and other regulations do not mention about the benefits of these workers.
Naveed Anthony, Sindh Assembly member assured to take up issues at the forums of assembly for proper legislation. He said these employees are working on contract basis for long without any facility. In his understanding, in case of being absent from duty concerned officials deduct wages was a inhuman approach. During the discussion, the speakers made the labour department responsible to take steps for regularization of the jobs of these workers.