Hyderabad: Overworked, underpaid sweepers pour out woes

Overworked, underpaid sweepers pour out woes
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Overworked, underpaid sweepers pour out woes

Highlights

Cleaners or sweepers working in Panchayati Raj schools run by the State government make school premises tidy and clean for students and teachers

Hyderabad: Cleaners or sweepers working in Panchayati Raj schools run by the State government make school premises tidy and clean for students and teachers.

Though government employees receive their retirement benefits, these contingent sweepers are only getting Rs. 4,000 per month as a payable pension.

Fifty-three-year-old R Baloji keeps the school free from rubbish to make walking pleasant and safe for students and teachers. He faces regularity of hazards at work and after his retirement which is close, he is not sure how he would take care of his family members as he is the only bread earner of the family of eight members.

He said: "I have been a sweeper since I turned 18. I love my job, I clean, collect garbage, remove wastes to help the children live hygienic and disease-free life during their school. To meet the basic necessities it is difficult for me and my family. After the retirement l may slip into financial distress as the pension we sweepers receive is not a livable amount."

Like Baloji, over 5,000 contingent sweepers of the city work without any retirement benefit. In most cases, they face risk of health hazards while they get close to the retirement age. Many are forced to live on footpaths or survive by seeking help from others.

D. Krishnaiah, President of Contingent Sweepers 'Welfare Association of Panchayati Raj Schools of Telangana said they do not have any benefit from the government except Rs 4,000 as monthly pension.

"Contingent sweepers have been working in the State government schools for more than 30 years with minimum pay of Rs. 4,000 per month as decided by the government. Sweepers are struggling hard to work for long hours to get Rs. 5,914 per month," he said.

To meet their family expenses like school fees for their children's education, clothing, food, shelter, and health necessities most of the sweepers were forced to work at odd places.

"Some of us took extreme steps and lost our lives. They cannot lead their lives with such a minimum amount paid by the government. After several requests to the government, we have even made an appeal to the high court but still waiting for a better decision," said S. Veeraswamy, Vice President of the association.

Moreover, during their jobs, they are at a greater risk of infection, injury, and death than average workers, and rarely have insurance or access to health services. Given the nature of their work and their living conditions, they are at higher risk of getting infected with various deadly diseases compared to the general population.

"The Commissioner in memo referred to G.O.Ms. No. 45, Finance (HRM.III) Department, is applicable to regular government servants, who are payable pension on retirement. The contingent employees are not paid a pension or retirement benefits, only contingent wages of Rs. 4,000 are paid per month. The government so far has not taken any policy decision for the survival of sweepers," said Syed Hussain, General Secretary of the association.

"The Telangana government must take a decision favouring sweepers working in Panchayati Raj," demanded Syed Aleem, Joint Secretary of the association.

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