Gujranwala: WASA (Water and Sewerage Authority) employees forced to work at risk to their lives – administration remains apathetic

WASA (Water and Sewerage Authority) employees in Gujranwala are forced to work in the worst conditions, which severely endangers their lives. In October, an employee named Samson was martyred due to this, and no one cared about his heirs. WASA employees are victims of the worst oppression due to the unavailability of safety kits, lack of medical treatment, increased work pressure due to a shortage of workforce, forced salary cuts, the apathy of the administration and increasing oppression.

The WASA Gujranwala union leadership openly described the apathy and oppressive tactics of the administration and said that the union continues to struggle for the issues of the employees while also appealing for solidarity with the workers of other institutions.

Currently, WASA employees in Gujranwala do not have modern safety kits, and the administration officers force them to descend into the foul sewage water without kits to clean.

Safety is completely ignored, and officers endanger the lives of employees to show their performance. For this reason, last October, Samson was martyred while cleaning a sewer.

This 28-year-old young man was an employee of WASA and was forced by the administration to descend into the sewer and clean without a safety kit.

Although experienced employees knew that there are poisonous gases in this sewer which could be fatal for Samson. But due to constant pressure from the officers, when he went down into the sewer to clean, he suffocated and was martyred on the spot. After that, another employee was sent to try to save him, but he also fell unconscious, who was rescued with great difficulty, while the help of rescue was sought to retrieve Samson’s body.

This situation makes it clear that in the 21st century, when access to mobile phones and computers has become common, even then employees here are forced to work in extremely backward ways.

The country that prides itself on being a nuclear power, the anti-worker rulers of this country have not yet been able to provide any modern method for cleaning sewers. The reason for this is that here the worker’s life is the cheapest.

Here, millions and billions of rupees are spent on officers’ cars, bungalows and other perks, from the Deputy Commissioner to the Governor and the President, the Prime Minister’s residence has the most modern facilities in the world, but in this country there is no scientific method for basic work like cleaning sewers. Even today, WASA employees have to descend into the foul and smelly water of the sewer without any special clothes and helmets, risking their lives and have to clean the sewer with their own hands.

In addition, the most important tool for these employees is a long bamboo stick, one end of which has to be inserted into the sewer and pushed from the other end so that any obstruction there can be removed.

The union leadership said that Samson’s heirs are far from being given any kind of government honor or special package, his widow has not yet been able to get his dues and she is still running from pillar to post in the offices and his children are facing severe financial difficulties. In addition, the employee who fell unconscious while trying to save Samson has become permanently ill, but let alone providing any medical facility for his treatment, he is not even given sick leave, and his salary is forcibly deducted.

The union demanded that just as employees who die on duty in police, army and other departments are given special packages, WASA employees should also be given the same, and they should also be honoured with government honours.

The union leadership also said that there is no departmental facility available for the treatment of employees. Most employees suffer from skin diseases, hepatitis and other infectious diseases, but there is no regular facility for treatment from the department.

They demanded that like the police, army, WAPDA and other departments, they should also be provided with modern medical facilities free of cost and screening of all employees should be done immediately so that their scientific treatment can be started. The union leadership also said that if the district administration wants, it can take immediate action and provide them treatment facilities on a priority basis under a special package at the District Headquarters Hospital so that WASA employees can access diagnosis, treatment and medicine supplies as soon as possible.

Currently, there is also a severe shortage of staff in WASA Gujranwala and there is a need to recruit 500 new employees, but the government is imposing a ban on new recruitment. Due to this, there is a lot of work pressure on the existing employees and one operator is forced to operate four tube wells at the same time. Similarly, during monsoons rains or other emergencies, the work pressure increases many times, and the possibility of a fatal accident is also high.

Among other important demands of the union, there is also a demand that they should not be forced to work after office hours. If this is done in any specific emergency, they should be paid regular overtime or it should be counted in the weekly working hours. Often, in emergency situations, the administration makes employees work late at night and then pressures them to attend at 6 am the next day. Their salary is forcibly deducted if the employee does not reach work at 6 am without any inquiry.

In addition, two hundred employees are working on a temporary basis in WASA Gujranwala. The union is also trying to get them regularized so that they can also get pensions and other benefits.

PTUS announced support for all the demands of the union and said that they will struggle shoulder to shoulder with the WASA union to solve these problems and will raise their voice on every forum to provide all these basic facilities to the employees by overcoming all obstacles and will also appeal for solidarity with the workers of other institutions.