Street cleaners demand jobs

Published on 9 February 2012 in News
Malak Shaher (author)

Malak Shaher

Street cleaners and garbage truck drivers protest in front of the General Cleaning Administration building on Wednesday.

Street cleaners and garbage truck drivers protest in front of the General Cleaning Administration building on Wednesday.

SANA’A, Jan. 8 – At least 2,000 street cleaners in Sana’a are on their third day of strike after being promised that their demands would be met last month.

Ibrahim Abbas, a member of the Street Cleaners Syndicate, said that the head of the Cleaning Project had promised Sana’a’s 4,300 street cleaners that they would be officially hired.

“We are anxious that we won’t be hired before the election. If nothing is done for us by then, we will be forgotten.”

“We went to the Civil Service Ministry and they responded by giving us a letter to be signed by the head of the project...but he refused to sign it,” said Abbas.

“The head of the project, Yahya Mughales, claimed that our papers were not completed, but he is just evading fulfilling his promise,” he said.

Last year in January, street cleaners went on a similar strike to demand their rights.  But, according to Abbas, “because of the bad situation in our country, we decided to keep silent. Now, we think it is time to give us what we deserve.”

Repeated efforts by the Yemen Times to contact Mughales for comment have been unsuccessful.

When they went on strike last month last month and last year, Ali Al-Maghribi, a secretary for the General Cleaning Administration (GCA), confirmed that the street cleaners were promised that they would be officially hired and receive paid vacations and benefits such as medical insurance.

Nee’ma Ali, a striking street cleaner, said that they have demanded their rights “for years and years, but that nothing has been given to them to show any appreciation”.

In a meeting at the General Cleaning Administration (GCA) last month, it was decided that street cleaners would receive medical insurance and paid vacations after one months’ time.

In response to last month’s strike, Minister of Defense Mohammad Naser Ahmad gave urgent orders to the Logistics Department to provide the street cleaners with sacks of sugar, bottles of oil and boxes of canned beans.

According to Abbas Al-Sharafi, head of the GCA’s operational unit, Sana’a produces 10,000 tons of garbage every day. With the street cleaners on strike, tons of garbage will fill Sana’a’s streets.

“We are suffering because we are not official employees. This time, we won’t clean anything until we are hired. This is their last chance,” said Ali.