Sanitation workers (Pourakarmikas) on Friday organised a protest in Bengaluru demanding basic rights to their safety amid the pandemic after 23 tested positive for COVID-19 in the city. The workers demanded PPE kits if they were to continue their work.
The workers protested at various locations in Bengaluru after 23 pourakarmikas tested positive for COVID-19 in randomised testing by the BBMP.
Sanitation workers demand basic right to dignity and safety in Bengaluru
In Bengaluru, sanitation workers or Pourakarmikas do the basics of disposing of the city's waste. With the COVID-19 pandemic only causing more worry in Karnataka and a high number of cases are recorded their work has become more challenging. Moreover, in the midst of the pandemic the workers are carrying out their work even near quarantined homes and in handling, waste are directly putting themselves at the risk of infection.
In these poor conditions and tough times, the union of Pourakarmikas is demanding full-body PPE kits. Not just that they are also demanding thermal testing and health checkups be conducted for them and their families. Their demands are addressed to the BBMP.
The protest followed a series of randomised testing by the BBMP among Pourakarmikas among which 23 tested positive for COVID-19. They are making their demands along the lines that they are equally on the frontline as healthcare workers, and if they do fall ill they cannot afford treatment.
One Pourakarmika Narayanamma was quoted by the Karnataka unit of All India Central Council of Trade Unions, "What will we do if we take COVID to our children? We pick up used masks and gloves every day with our hands. Who will pay the medical bills? We demand medical insurance so our families do not suffer because of the failures of the BBMP."