Representatives of sanitary workers, seeking urgent execution of their right to occupational safety, were largely supported by the civil rights activists demanding ‘destigmatization’ of working community, critically needed across the globe.
Speakers at the provincial conference ‘Shaping a Safe and Dignified Future for Sanitary Workers in Sindh,’ emphasized at the importance of right to safe and dignified life for these workers, particularly the sewer-men.
The conference was jointly organized by Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO).
It was observed with deep concern that social discrimination with a certain religious connotation has severely affected sanitary workers and sewer men with dire impact on general sanitation in most parts of the province.
It was mentioned that on an average there are one to 1.5 sanitary workers per 1000 population in major towns of Sindh – Karachi with a population of 20 million was said to have 11,000 sanitary workers.
Speakers of the moot included Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Nasir Hussain Shah, Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi, former senator Javed Jabbar, PTI’s MNA Ramesh Kumar Chawla, PPP’s MPA Tanzila Qambrani, Veerji Kohli, Special Assistant to Sindh Chief Minister, Anis Haroon (former Chairperson, National Commission on Women Status), Boota Imtiaz (Sanitary Workers’ Community Representative), Shafiq Ghauri (President, Sindh Labour Federation), Karamat Ali (Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research) Zulfiqar Shah, Shazia Shaheen, Pirbhu Satyani, Sadequa Salahuddin (Indus Resource Centre), Ishaq (Sanitary Worker) and many others.
The speakers regretted that despite the fact that there was acute shortage of the critically important workforce, little attention was being paid towards their social security cover – encompassing mandatory provision for safety kits, mandatory vaccination, health cards.
Sanitary workers’ right to minimum wage of Rs17,500 (as announced by the Sindh Government), provision for regularization, abolition of third party contract, promotion in accordance to their academic qualification and period of service, academic allowance for their children and so-forth were also strongly recommended by the speakers.
Rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the country and series of laws adopted by the province since 18th Constitutional Amendment coupled with UN Convention and associated international rules ratified by the country were also extensively discussed.
It was regretted that there exists absolute disregard for these and little implementation is registered reflecting lack of political will towards one of the most marginalized section of the society.