Street cleaners in Sana’a rewarded
The ceremony was organized by Abdulghani Hafdalla, secretary general of the local council of municipality workers, or street sweepers, in Sana’a governorate. Several government officials were in attendence.
Municipality worker Yahyia Alquhm delivered a speech on behalf of all workers, saying that this celebration is the first of its kind.
“Thanks to those who prepared this ceremony. It is a token of appreciation for our efforts,” he said. “However, we demand urgent implementation of Prime Minister Basindawa decree which seeks to improve the living standards of municipality workers.”
“Frankly speaking,” he continued, “we feel that the society and the government marginalize us. Our homes are torn tarpaulins in filthy slums. But in spite of the tough circumstances we experience, we have been working around the clock for the sake of the nation and its beauty.”
“We [municipality workers] call for the expedited implementation of the prime minister’s decision. We also demand to be given a land plot for our permanent residence. We are fed up with empty promises,” he concluded.
Murai Abdah Mohammed, a street cleaner for five years, received a certificate at the ceremony. While he seemed happy about the reward, Mohammed told the Yemen Times that he is not satisfied with his salary and living standards.
“The salary is not adequate and my residence is humiliating. It is terrible, particularly during rain storms and cold weather,” he said. “I have children who need clothes and food which I can’t afford with this low salary (YR 25,000 [$120]).”
Mohammed Ahmed Saleh and Ali Qasim were among those who received the certificates of appreciation.
“We want to be officially hired and be granted housing. And we need a salary raise. These are our urgent demands,” they said unanimously
For his part, Abdulghani Hafdallah said, “honoring the street sweepers signals our great appreciation for their dark-skinned arms.”
“Keeping our environment clean is a collective responsibility, and being a municipality worker is no less than any other job,” he said.
Hafdalla added that the honor ceremony fell short of the recognition that workers in the municipality deserve. “We saw what took place when the street cleaners in the capital Sana’a went on strike. Garbage piled up everywhere,” he recalled.
Abalwahid Al-Fatahi, the Fund General Manager in Sana’a, said that to respect the environment is an indicator of good morals. “Therefore, we should hold the street cleaners in high esteem. They are symbols of industriousness in the community,” he said.
Mohammed Al-Jadari, head of the General Union of Workers Syndicate was also in attendance. In his speech during the ceremony, he said, “We are absolutely happy to recognize the municipality affiliates’ rights. By virtue of their constant efforts, we live in healthy environment. They work relentlessly in order to keep the world around us beautiful. The municipality workers deserve our respect and gratitude,” concluded Al-Jadari.
At the end of the ceremony, more than thirteen street cleaners were granted merit badges and symbolic amounts of money.