‘Choora’ ‘Kooray wala’ ‘Gatar Saaf Karnay Wala’ and many more derogatory terms like these appear in our minds, when we come across the term ‘Sanitary Worker.’ Sanitary workers, in Pakistan, are those people of the society, who despite all the hard work to keep our lives healthy and safe, do not get the fair share of respect and are thrown away like a garbage bag once they have performed their duty.
We fail to recognize the fact that we live in the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ a country which emerged on the world map as a country based on Islam, where the Islamic rules and principles are fundamental part of the constitution. Although the rules are there but they are not being entirely implemented. In Islam, every human being is equal in the eyes of Allah the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H), therefore, in his last sermon said,
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white – except by piety and good action.
We are all ready to hear the Hadiths but when it comes to practicality we fail to convert words into actions. And this is what has been happening to the poor sanitary workers. Not only by people but the sanitary workers are being exploited by the Metropolitan Corporations as well. The very corporations which are meant to protect the rights of these workers.
Considering the amount of salary these workers get, according to a report mentioned in Pakistan Today a Sanitary worker gets 15,000PKR as a base salary out of which 2,000-3,000PKR must be ‘presented’ to the inspector of that area. If he fails to do so then his employment is terminated. Now, if we break down his salary, out of 15,000PKR 2,000PKR goes to the boss, the worker is now left with 13,000PKR. Out of this, he has to pay the bills which in the present situation and rising inflation easily amount up to 7,000PKR. Deducting this amount from the 13,000PKR the worker is only left with 6,000PKR in which he has to run a whole family. Do you really think that this 6,000PKR will truly suffice his needs?
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Besides wage discrimination, sanitary workers also have to face extremely poor working conditions. Going into domestic waste, gutters, and sewers is no easy task. To open up the clogged pathways the sanitary workers dip themselves in the waste and then attempt to free up the blocked opening. While doing this they are prone to deadly gases which can kill them in seconds due to suffocation. But no precaution up to this day has been taken to reduce this danger and hence the number of deaths of sanitary workers is on the rise.
Moreover, these workers are not provided with suitable suits and masks to wear when entering the gutter. Due to this close proximity, these innocent people catch deadly diseases which not only harm them but also pose damages to those around them.
These sanitary workers literally clean our waste to provide a healthy environment to all of us while putting their life at risk. And we in return treat them like the untouchables. Do you really think this behavior is justifiable? As I am writing this down, my mind is still occupied by the picture of the sanitary worker who died today while performing his task. He was not a sanitary worker he was actually a man with a family, a man with a hope to live. Unfortunately, he lost all that.
The Government must provide these workers with the best possible facilities and should raise their working conditions. Because they are equally a part of Pakistan as we are.