Sanitary workers have stood at the forefront of the war against the COVID-19 pandemic, but due to a lack of safety equipment for the community, they are also possibly a high risk-group for the virus as they have been tasked with the removal of waste produced by quarantined areas and hospitals.
Although the federal and provincial governments have urged Pakistanis to wear masks and gloves to prevent contracting and spreading the virus, sanitary workers are forced to perform their jobs without any such protection.
Punjab’s Minister for Health, Yasmin Rashid, has stated that the government has facilitated and is continuing to facilitate sanitary workers. However, a correspondent for the workers union of Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC), Babar Muktiar, claimed that sanitary workers were risking their lives every day to perform their duties while the government has turned a blind eye to their situation.
voicepk.net reached out to the LWMC, who stated that the company has provided their employees with masks and gloves, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to workers performing lockdown duties. Regarding an Rs. 5,000 bonus to its employees, the LWMC asserted that the matter will be taken up during a board meeting scheduled for April 17, and upon approval, the bonus amount will be disbursed.
However, sanitary workers reiterate the concerns posed by Babar Mukhtiar and say they are still made to work with only a bucket, rope and belt for equipment.
Despite being made to work with very little resources for even smaller pays, sanitary workers are among those in the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic. And due to the valuable service they render, sanitary workers demand that the government, as well as society, work for their protection and betterment.