December 12th, 2021
By Zeenat Shahzadi & Usman
All year round sanitary workers employed by Faisalabad’s solid waste management company move around from street to street cleaning the city without face masks or any other adequate safety equipment. For these unsung heroes the festivities, which should otherwise bring happiness, become an added burden on life. Much like the last year, Faisalabad’s sanitary workers are being denied hard-earned dues which they now need more than ever.
Workers claim that they have not been paid salaries for the last two months leaving them penniless and unable to celebrate Christmas. “We cannot even buy clothes for our children,” said one of the workers.
“I have been a contract employee of Faisalabad’s waste management company for the last 10 years. Christmas is just around the corner and we have not been paid our wages for the last two months. We faced the same problem last year as well and had to stage protests to get out salaries. These people have no regard even for our holy days,” says Noman.
In addition to not being awarded salaries on time, sanitary workers also complain of poor and ever-deteriorating work conditions. Claiming that the little safety equipment they do own was bought using their own money.
“The company does not provide us with any safety equipment at all. We have to buy everything ourselves. This broom costs Rs.150 per piece and we have to buy a new one every week out of our own pockets,” says Imran.
A frail old man who says he has been associated with the department for the last 22 years claims that despite his years of service he has not received any benefit whatsoever from the department and now they are even being denied hard-earned salaries.
“For the last 22 years, I have been working at this organization on a daily wage basis. A year ago we were promised that all daily wage employees will be given permanent contracts but no such thing materialized,” says Rehmat.
Many of the unpaid workers are forced into unending debt traps because they lack money for day-to-day sustenance and are in dire need of money just to stay afloat.