Cruelty, exploitation and slavery meted out to the underpaid workers

What you make and what they get
November 19, 2020
Let Jinnah rest in peace
December 11, 2020

Chief Minister Sindh                                                                            11 Dec.2020

Dear Chief Minister,

Cruelty, exploitation and slavery of the poor and the helpless – a routine  practice at  the government departments


There is an urgent situation to which I draw your precious attention.  It relates to the gross inhumanity, illegality and cruelty that is meted out to contracted employees of a large majority of government departments.   The situation is no way any different from the way imprisoned slaves were treated in tea plantations 200 years ago.

Let me begin by Karachi’s finest monument – the Quaid e Azam Mazar. Kindly read this letter from a security guard at the Mazar that summarizes the story of torture and misery of the guards, janitors and gardeners who work at the Jinnah’s tomb.

Dear Mr. Jinnah,

I am a security guard at your resting place – so that you may rest in peace. But peace is not a one way street. You cannot be resting in peace while hundreds of us scorch in a living hell for 12 hours every day – for Rs.10,000 pm.  The sanitary staff gets Re.14000 pm for a 12 hour shift and the gardeners receive Rs.9000 for the morning shift.

Please Mr.Jinnah, can you arise from your grave, even if it is for just one day and make sure that every janitor, every Mali and every Guard who works at your mausoleum’s courtyard is paid at least the correct legal minimum wage.  That may be our only chance to break the chains of  slavery and exploitation that the rich and the rulers have bound us in.  We pray that instead of the VIPs, you will  simply walk up to the gardeners, the janitors and the guards of your compound, shake hands with them, pat them and go back to your eternal resting place.

Respectfully, a guard.”

Let me come to another prominent  organistion – The Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB). The Board has contracted out its cleaning task to a Chinese Company which has further outsourced it to a local contractor. The local contractor hires janitors / sanitary workers and pays them illegal wages of Rs.15,000 pm with no leave, medical or EOBI.

Next I draw your attention to the city’s three most prestigious hospitals. The JPMC, the NICVD and the NICH.   Till last month they were all illegally paying Rs.12,000 to the contracted private security guards for a 12 hour shift. On intervention by citizens, the JPMC and NICH have prepared new contracts to raise the wages to the min wage level of Rs.17500.  However this does not still cater for the extra 4 hour duty per day (for which they ought to be paid twice the normal rate).  You will appreciate that the min wage law requires a salary of Rs.17500 for an 8 hour shift.  Thus the NICH, JPMC and NICVD security guards must receive Rs.35,000 pm for a daily 12 hour shift.

What I write here is just the tip of the iceberg of brutality that we extend to our most helpless and vulnerable section of society. There are scores of other organisations indulging in the same identical delinquency.   Sadly, the Sindh Labour Department continues to look the other way – that suggests their own complicity in this inhuman crime.

Could I appeal to you Sir, to kindly order that the 5 departments mentioned in this letter (QA Mazar, SSWMB, JPMC, NICH, NICVD) take the following steps.

  1. Raise the min wage of all contracted employees ( janitors , guards, gardeners) to at least Rs.17500 for an 8 hour shift and Rs.35000 for those who operate a 12 hour shift.
  2. Ensure that all contracted employees are registered with EOBI and have a medical insurance.
  3. Ensure that all employees are paid by bank cheques to provide traceability of the actual amount paid.


Naeem Sadiq