Hyderabad: hundreds of Christian and Hindu sanitary workers sacked
by Shafique Khokhar

These workers were sent home in November without any notice. Trade unionist Imran Bhatti: 'We will continue our protests, the government is solely responsible for any misfortune to these poor families'

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of Christian and Hindu sanitary workers have protested, asking the local government to allow them back to work in the local Municipal Corporation after being fired in November last year.

Their salary has not been paid since Christmas Eve and now with Easter approaching, their situation has not changed, some of them explained. Many are also forced to take out loans even at very high interest rates to pay their rent and support their families.

The salary paid by the government was 25 thousand rupees (85 euro) for each sanitary worker, but they were only paid 18 thousand rupees (60 euro), while the rest of the amount was either deducted for holidays or officials deliberately gave them a lower salary for no reason. The workers were dismissed without prior notification after working at the facility for at least 17 years. 

Most of them belong to the Christian community. In recent months, they have been forced to do odd jobs during the day, but some can barely buy bread and butter.

Imran Bhatti, head of the union and social activist, when questioned by AsiaNews said: "Many couples used to work as sanitary workers and now the authorities have dismissed them. One can easily imagine the economic situation of these families. How can they pay their rent, bills and their children's school fees?"

The union had been vocal about the fact that the sanitary workers were not provided with adequate tools while working and now these workers have nothing to feed their children. "We will continue our protests, the government is solely responsible for any misfortune towards these poor families," says Bhatti. 

"We had nothing to spend on our children at Christmas and then the situation only worsened," Arif Masih, one of the Christian sanitary workers, told AsiaNews.

"Our economic situation is no better than that of the people affected by the floods, we look around for help, we ask for food rations for our children, and when we do not find support from anywhere we are forced to ask for loans from intermediaries. I am sending my children to school so that they can lead a better life than us, but since December we have not been able to pay the school fees. What will be the future of our children if they do not get a proper education. The government should understand our suffering and give us our jobs back."