The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday ordered the Secretary of Local Government, Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) and others to file comments on a petition seeking implementation of the Waste Management Act. the minimum wage for all sanitation workers employed by LG organizations. and the SSWMB.
Naeem Sadiq and others said in their petition that sanitation workers employed by LG agencies across the province are currently being paid well below minimum wage. They said many sanitation workers employed by union councils and the SSWMB, either directly or through a contractor, are not only paid well below minimum wage, but also receive no benefits, while they can be fired at will.
They added that sanitation workers have to handle toxic pollutants, harmful substances and hazardous biological and chemical agents in the course of their work, which makes them vulnerable to health risks, and that they are also required to descend the sewers, where they are immersed in waste and exposed to toxic substances.
They pointed out that the World Health Organization and the World Bank have recommended that governments adopt laws and policies to ensure the occupational health and safety of sanitation workers, including the provision of sanitation equipment. personal protection (PPE).
However, they lamented, sanitation workers across the province are not being provided with any protective equipment when they must fully expose themselves to hazardous substances. The petitioners said sanitation workers are forced to carry out their responsibilities, including cleaning gutters and drains, with only their bodies. They pointed out that members of religious minorities are specifically recruited to perform these tasks, thus increasing the ostracism of minorities in society.
They said sanitation workers frequently die in the line of duty due to the lack of protective equipment and safety protocols, while they do not receive health care or compensation from their workers. employers in the event of injury or death.
They pointed to sections 9 and 25 of the constitution which require that sanitation workers employed by government agencies in Sindh be entitled to at least the legal minimum wage, saying that sanitation workers are entitled to means of subsistence and equality before the law.
The petitioners’ lawyer, Sara Malkani, said sanitation workers are entitled to the minimum wage, whether they are directly employed by the LG or the SSWMB, or through contractors providing services on behalf of of the LG, while the government must ensure that the private contractors to whom they contract sanitation services comply with labor laws. Filing additional documents on the petition, she said the Nawabshah Municipal Committee payroll shows that sanitation workers are paid below the minimum wage, as low as Rs 9,000 per month.
She said an advertisement placed in the newspapers by the Rohri Municipal Committee advertised vacancies for sanitation workers who would receive daily wages for a period of 88 days.
She asked the court to declare that all sanitation workers employed by LG Bodies and SSWMB across the province are entitled to the currently applicable minimum wage of Rs 17,500 stipulated under the Minimum Wages Act 2015 of the Province. Sindh.
She also asked the court to order the government to compensate sanitation workers who have been deprived of their minimum wage by paying them their wages from the date of their first employment to the extent of the amount that they suffered. been illegally denied, and to ensure that all sanitation workers are provided with PPE.
Provincial counsel has requested time to file comments on the motion. An SHC division bench consisting of Judge Aftab Ahmed Gorar and Judge Adnanul Karim Memon ordered him to file submissions on behalf of the respondents within four weeks.