ISLAMABAD: A large number of daily wage sanitation workers of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have demanded regularization of their services over vacant posts of cleaners.
Irked by indifferent behavior of the sanitary inspectors and private contractors, the sanitation workers said workplace ostracism is more distressing and painful than harassment.
Don’t come tomorrow if you are not working today, we have been warned when any of us applies for a sick leave to the respective in-charge S*Masih
“Doesn’t matter how deteriorated your health situation is, you will have to come and work for the entire day, otherwise your salary will be cut,” he added.
There are around 3,000 Christians residing in Miskeen Colony of Sector G-8, Islamabad and associated with CDA as regular and out-source employees. Every second sanitation worker has many irks from the management of the development authority.
Indifferent behavior of the sanitary inspectors and private contractors is more damaging to their physical and mental health, said Sareena*, a woman sanitation worker of CDA.
“I was running a high fever in the morning, but yet I went on duty and met all the given tasks as taking leave could cause a cut in her salary,” Sareena* added.
“My husband goes to work in the morning and returns late at night, adding that calling him for overwork has become a routine affair,” said Seema*.
They call sanitation workers on job even on their weekly off days, but don’t pay overtime, she lamented.
Seema* and her husband both are working with CDA as daily wage cleaners and the couple is irked by the overlooked behavior of the management.
When asked about overtime, the senior officer said the development authority doesn’t have an overtime policy, however, he said those who have been called on duty on their off days are given alternative days off.
Annoyed from feeling of being excluded, ignored and overlooked, the Christian sanitation workers of the Miskeen Colony, Sector G-8 Islamabad said a large majority of daily wage workers can be regularized if the development authority speeds up its hiring process.
S* alleged that a large number of cleaner positions are lying vacant with the CDA’s Sanitation Department, but the authority has adopted delay tactics in regularizing their services.
According to a senior CDA officer, there are 625 regular and over 1,200 daily wage sanitation workers involved in cleaning toilets, emptying pits, septic tanks, cleaning sewer, roads, and manholes in different sectors of Islamabad under the development authority.
The CDA has ‘625 regular and 1,200 daily wage sanitation workers: Official sources
The officer on the condition of anonymity further said that the development authority has more than 1,000 vacant positions of cleaners and hiring on them will soon be made, adding that a summary in this regard has been sent to the concerned authority of approval.
According to 1998 consensus, Christians filled about 80 percent of sanitation jobs in Pakistan.
The authority has more than 1000 vacant posts of clearers and a summary, in this regard, has been sent to the concerned authority for approval. Official sources
No Reward, No Compensation
T* served for the development authority as a daily wager for over three decades. Some two years ago, he was busy in his work on a roadside near Peshawar More when a speedy vehicle hit him, leaving him injured seriously.
T* remained admitted in a local hospital for many weeks as he got leg fractures. I don’t have money to bear my husband’s treatment expenses and borrowed Rs70,000 from my relatives, which later I paid them back, said Hareem*.
The development authority had paid three extra salaries to her husband, but refused bearing his treatment expenses, she added.
More painful for us was that none of the authority members even bothered to inquire about the health of her husbands, despite the fact that he had been working with them for 30 years.
It is to mention here that T* has recovered his leg fractures now but when he approached the development authority for resumption of his job, he was told that his name has been removed from the list of employees. T* has been jobless since last one year.
S*, another sanitation worker, said “I could not forget the tragic death of one of his colleagues.”
We don’t have any contract with the CDA which can protect our rights and makes us eligible for benefits like regular employees, said Ikram*, another sanitation worker.
“We have to work for at least eight to nine hours daily; however, there is no maximum hours limit, ” he said.
It is to mention here that the regular sanitary employees are eligible for all incentives like other employees as per the policy of the authority. However, out-source employees are not eligible for any such incentive.
The daily wage employees are being paid Rs20,000 per month as per the government announced package.
Earlier, there was a contract system under which the department was hiring a contractor for each sector and the contractor was responsible to handle the matters of out-source employees, adding that however, the contractor system has been finished.
No Safety Kits, Despite SC Orders
The concerned authority had made an announcement that the sanitation workers will be equipped with health safety kits, but so far no kits could be delivered to them, said S*.
It is to mention here that in its June 2020 judgment, the Supreme Court states all concerned authorities should be directed to provide to sanitary workers all required safety kits, in order, to ensure that their health is not adversely affected by any disease while doing their work.
Pakistan is signatory of international accords regarding basic health safety of sanitation workers while sanitation workers are working in pathetic conditions, said Pritam Das, president of the Islamabad Hindu Panchayat.
Pakistan is a signatory of international accords regarding basic health safety of sanitation workers while sanitation workers here are working in pathetic conditions IHP President Pritam Das
espite their services for making this country clean and healthy, sanitation workers in Pakistan are deprived of basic facilities like health, education and shelter, Das added.
They are living below the standard life due to which they are forced to compromise quality food, clean drinking water, education to their children, health facilities in their residential colonies, he lamented.
Das demanded of the CDA to not only ensure regularization of sanitation staff but should establish proper colonies in different sectors of Islamabad so that the health of sanitary workers can be improved and their work productivity.
Living in unhygienic conditions at the banks of drainage in Islamabad is a great source of spreading diseases among them.