Monday December 11, 2023

SHC directs Sindh govt to pay minimum wage to sanitary workers in all departments

January 26, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday directed the Sindh government to comply with a legal minimum wage of Rs25,000 for sanitary workers deployed in all the departments across the province.

The direction came on a petition seeking the implementation of the minimum wage law for all the sanitation workers employed by the local government department and Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB).

Naeem Sadiq and others had stated in their petition that sanitation workers employed by the local government bodies across the province were currently being paid well below the minimum wage.

They said that many sanitation workers employed by the union councils and the SSWMB, either directly or through a contractor, were not only paid well below the minimum wage but they also got no benefits whatsoever and could be fired at will.

They added that sanitation workers had to handle toxic pollutants, noxious substances, and hazardous biological and chemical agents in the course of their work, making them vulnerable to health risks, and they were also required to climb down sewerage drains, where they were immersed in waste and exposed to poisonous substances.

They said sanitation workers frequently died in the course of performing their duties due to the absences of protective gear and safety protocols, while they received no health care or compensation from their employers in case of injuries or death.

The petitioners called for invoking the Constitution’s articles 9 and 25 that required sanitation workers employed by government bodies across Sindh be entitled to at least the minimum legal wage, and said that sanitation workers had the right to livelihood and equality under the law.

The petitioners’ counsel, Sara Malkani, said sanitation workers were entitled to the minimum wage whether they were directly employed by the local government department or the SSWMB, or through contractors, and the government must ensure that the private contractors to whom it had outsourced sanitation services were complying with the labour laws.

She requested the high court to declare that all the sanitation workers employed by the local government bodies and the SSWMB across the province were entitled to the currently applicable minimum wage stipulated in accordance with the Sindh Minimum Wages Act 2015.

She also requested the SHC to direct the government to compensate the sanitation workers who had been deprived of minimum wages by paying them from the date of their initial employment the amount that was unlawfully denied to them, and ensure that all sanitation workers were provided protective personal equipment.