Forum Calls For Devising SOPs To Ensure Safety Of Sanitary Workers
The legislators, officials of Water and Sanitation Authority (WASA), Social Welfare Department, Labour Department and representatives of the civil society here Friday emphasized on the need of measures for safety of the sanitary workers
The consensus was expressed during an introductory meeting of the project steering forum for promotion of social well being of the sanitary workers, organized by Strengthening Participatory Organization(SPO) at a local hotel. The meeting was chaired by Justice (R) Majida Rizvi, Chairperson Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC).
The speakers unanimously underlined the need that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) should be prepared to take measures to help sanitary workers, who are vulnerable to health hazards and risk their lives at work.
They said the local bodies should work in collaboration with the community activists and organizations to ensure safety measures and job security of those workers.
Justice (R) Rizvi asked the participants to inform the workers about the human rights violations which occur at work with the sanitary workers by the government or by the private employers. She acknowledged that another violation of the workers' rights pertained to their low salaries.
"It's regrettable that in some organizations regular employees sit at homes while temporarily hired employees on low wages work in difficult situations in which they take risk on their lives," she observed.
Muzzafar Hussain Memon, Managing Director WASA, told that they had only 70 regularized sanitary workers while others were being hired as per need through the supervisors.
He said WASA paid more amount for that work to the hired staff.He made it clear that WASA was not responsible if there was any exploitation committed by supervisors.
Memon said 80 percent of the 70 workers were overage, suggesting that they could not perform their duty well.
"We can't force them to go and work in a manhole," he underlined.
Earlier, the social activist Boota Imtiaz said the sanitary workers were among the most exploited class of workers.He stressed that the government should form and implement the rules for their well being.
He said certain rules barred the municipal authorities for forcing the sanitary workers to work inside the gutters.Imtiaz referred to several incidents during which the sanitary workers died while cleaning the manholes.
Pirbhu Satyani, SPO's Regional Head, in his brief presentation highlighted that the developed world had formed workplace safety rules for those workers. "There is no provision to force these people to go in the manholes where there are horrible and poisonous gases," he said.
Satyani said the workers should not only be equipped with the safety gear but pre-work training and refresher training should be made a part of their job.He also mentioned that the Sindh sanitation policy 2017 and national sanitation policy and other regulations did not provide for the benefits for those workers.
Satyani told that the SPO was going to work with WASA, HMC, HDA and other municipal administrations to help them introducing the safety measures on humanitarian basis for those workers.
The MPA Naveed Anthony assured that he would take up issues at the forum of Sindh Assembly for proper legislation.He said employees working on contract basis for a long period without any facility should be regularized.