HRCP Advocates for Enhanced Rights and Protections for Sanitation Workers

Hyderabad, The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has unveiled a model national policy framework aimed at significantly improving the working conditions for sanitation workers across the country. This initiative seeks to address critical issues including fair wages, occupational safety, collective bargaining rights, and discrimination.

According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the newly released report titled “Hazardous Matters: Examining the Right to Safe and Dignified Work for Sanitation Workers,” highlights the dire circumstances faced by these workers in Sindh and Punjab. The report criticizes the common practice of hiring through contractors, which often results in sanitation workers receiving wages below the legal minimum, lacking paid leave, job security, medical, or retirement benefits.

The HRCP report also sheds light on the systemic discrimination within the sector, noting that the majority of sanitation workers belong to minority Christian or Hindu communities and are often segregated and limited in their social mobility. Historical job advertisements have explicitly restricted certain sanitation roles to non-Muslim applicants, further entrenching workplace discrimination.

The dangers of sanitation work are profound, with workers frequently exposed to hazardous conditions without adequate protective measures. The report notes that several workers have died on the job due to these unsafe environments.

The current National Sanitation Policy of Pakistan is outdated, and provincial policies are insufficient or not yet implemented. The HRCP’s proposed policy framework advocates for the legal recognition of sanitation workers, ensuring they receive the same protections as other workers under the Constitution.

Key recommendations include the regularization of employment, enforcement of minimum wage laws, provision of social security, retirement benefits, and compensation for workplace injuries. The policy also emphasizes the need for technological upgrades to mitigate the dangers of manual sanitation work, such as cleaning gutters.

This comprehensive approach aims not only to safeguard the health and safety of sanitation workers but also to elevate their status within society by affirming their rights and dignity.