Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) Lahore office with the technical assistance from the PRS/STRIDE project funded by the government of Japan is going to organise sanitation workers working in the private and public sector on a platform and also on the promotion of the decent working conditions for these workers.
PWF would gather data of all sanitary workers through a research study, which will be conducted by the Labour Research and Development Institute under the supervision of the faculty member of LUMS Dr Syed M Azeem. The study will help PWF to identify areas where they can provide them technical assistance effectively. The study also aims to bring the facts and figures around the decent working conditions for these workers in front of all the relevant stakeholders. This will be the first of its kind of research study by the trade union federation itself. The sanitary workers would be provided series of opportunities through community level engagements to build their capacity on the issues and to organise them.
The ILO OSH expert Mr Yoshi who will be visiting Lahore on September 17, 2022 for a filed survey to develop the training manual accordingly, would provide them training of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH).
In a press statement on Saturday, PWF said that many risks are attached with the jobs of sanitary workers as they often descend into the sewers without gloves or any other protective gear for very little money or respect. The work is usually accompanied by a set of risks, some of them life threatening too.
According to PWF, it has been observed that most of the sanitary workers descend in the sewer or manhole without wearing safety gadgets. Because of unavailability of the safety gadgets, some of the workers had lost their lives.
PWF shared that sanitation workers are the individuals whose jobs can include cleaning toilets, emptying pits and septic tanks, cleaning sewers and manholes and operating pumping stations and treatment plants. Data of the sanitary workers would be collected from Wasa, LWMC, Private agencies providing sanitation services for the plazas, hospitals and private universities etc. It would be conducted phase wise. In the first phase sanitary workers would be gathered from Lahore so that they could be provided technical assistance for organising and for the formation of separate unions.
According to PWF, the sanitary workers are neglected and they face discrimination because of hailing from marginalized and poor segment of society. PWF will play its role to reclaim their social status. The PWF will ensure their legal rights, after that they would provide their services with human dignity. PWF demanded their wages should be better than that of an ordinary worker as the work they do is very risky and not everyone can do this and they demanded from the government to provide them decent work according to ILO conventions. PWF President Ch Nasim told that the sanitation workers are engaged in the supply of an essential public service that includes collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal of human excreta, domestic wastewater, and solid waste. They handle the entire operations related to provisioning and maintenance of the sanitation service chain.