The word unorganized was first used by Keith Hart and International Labour Organization (ILO) discussed it first time in 1972 in its Kenya convention where comprehensive discussion on unorganized sector which was held. Long before this, unorganized workers emerged in eighteenth century in England. Due to the industrial revolution the workers were high in demand in industries.
The role of unorganized sector worker is very big in India. The construction and waste management industries are engaging highest number of unorganized sector workers. But there is huge difference between public perceptions regarding these two categories of unorganized workers. Workers engaged in construction sector are considered important for the society as their absence will halt all construction work in the city but this is not the case with the waste collection workers. They are looked down by all section of the society neither there is any recognition for their work. It can be said that the society at large holds a very negative attitude towards these workers.
Naturally, these waste collection workers come from most deprived section of the society. They are poor people who have migrated from rural areas to cities in search for work. They work on daily wage basis without any job security or benefits. They have to solely rely on the meager income they earn by doing waste collection activity.
Waste collection workers are found in every small and big cities of India. At most places women and children are engaged in waste collection who work for 10 to 12 hours to earn somewhere around 80 to 100 rupees in a day. The case of women waste collector is worse as they have to face derogatory remarks continuously. The condition of waste collectors is different from the workers working in other sectors. These waste collection workers comes from the weakest section of the society and due to their poor economic condition they barely manage to earn enough money to buy their meal except that they are not able to fulfill their other basic necessities such as; health, education, housing, and clothing.
Unorganized workers engaged in waste collection in India are mainly categorized in to five: Waste collectors, Junk buyers, Waste collectors at landfills, Small junk dealers Big junk dealers
In India there a large number of child labour engaged in waste collection work (Singh 2006). Both girls and boys are engaged in this activity.
Government of India has categorized the whole process of waste management under hazardous category (Rule 2000). Scores of health related problems are found among the waste collection workers. Every year around five crore people suffer from health related diseases due to improper management of waste (Hunt 1996). Workers involved in waste management face direct environmental hazards and indirect environmental hazards (Hunt 1996).
Waste collection work badly affects the health of pregnant women and children. Children start collecting waste at a very early age. They do not get necessary nourishment they require at that age which makes them week and vulnerable to diseases (Hunt 2006). But government not to ready for takes the responsibility.
Most of the waste collection workers live either near landfill sites of near railway track in settlements. These settlements lack basic amenities such as water, toilets, or hygiene. They live mix of kaccha and pukka type of house. Many house have tin or grass sheet on top (Zia 2008).
These workers are not able to avail any facility run by state and central government. They are not part of the attraction in government policies. They are purely unprivileged workers in term of all perspective like labour, basic fundamental facilities, Education, Health etc.
Author – Baljeet