A view of conference on Sanitary Workers Rights. (ENNS)
KARACHI (ENNS) Sindh Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, MPAs from major political parties of Sindh, Sindh Human Rights Commission, trade unions and human rights activists agreed on the need for a concerted multi-pronged efforts to ensure dignity, workplace rights and equality for sanitary workers in Pakistan.
They were speaking at the provincial conference on “Shaping a Safe and Dignified Future for the Sanitary Workers in Sindh”, jointly organized by the Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) and the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) at a local hotel.
MPA Tanzeela Qumbrani, MPA Dilawar Hussain, Justice Rtd Majida Razvi, Chairperson SHRC, Veerji Kolhi, Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister for Human Rights, Javed Jabbar, Chairman SPO, Sadiqa Salahuddin, Muzaffar Memon, MD WASA, Iftikhar Qaimkhani Hyderabad Municipal Corporation also spoke on the occasion.
Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Minister for Local Government assured that the government is already working on issues related to sanitary workers. He said that sanitary workers are not only deputed in Hyderabad and Karachi, they are working in all towns, cities and larger villages.
The Government is working on the issues related to sanitary workers on the provincial level, including focusing on promoting their grades and increasing their salaries. He said the term sanitary workers should be replaced with health workers to respect their dignity.
Chairperson Sindh Human Rights Commission Justice (Retd) Majida Razvi, who has recently constituted a sub-committee on sanitary workers seeking to address the issues of sanitary workers using the sun moto powers as well as the mandate to review laws and policies also spoke on the occasion.
While briefing the participants on the powers and functions of the Commission, she shared that the Commission has received a number of complaints from the sanitary workers pertaining to discrimination at employment and occupational health and safety risks.
Zulfiqar Shah, who conducted a study on sanitary workers pointed out that the major reason behind the community’s marginalisation is informal employment. He said Pakistan has a labour force of 65 million. Of this, an overwhelming majority of 73% is in the informal sector which means they have no rights or lesser rights as informal work were not covered by labour laws.