HOW do you deal with deceit, dishonesty and debasement in your day-to-day life? Sounds like an existential question. Substitute the three D’s with a single word, ‘corruption’, and the question loses its dimensions and sounds almost clichéd.
Inducted into the Urdu lexicon and used ad nauseam in our popular political discourse, the word when deconstructed in a specific context holds a mirror up to ordinary lives made difficult through avarice and misuse of entrusted power. A look at ‘corruption’ through the perspective of Lady Health Workers (LHWs) explains why corruption is termed by the UN on the International Anti-Corruption Day (observed two weeks ago) as one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and a formidable hurdle in the path of “development, peace and security”.
This research report was written for Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Karachi and was published in 2006.
This study presents an overview of road transport sector work environment, labour relations and working conditions and examines workers’ response to address some of the issues relating to social security through collective action. Methodology includes literature review and assessment through informal discussions with a select number of transport workers/operators, representatives of transport workers’ unions/organizations/federations, and private transport companies.
Mustachioed, grim-faced, 44-year-old Najibullah Khan is on the road for the last 29 years. He works as a driver on long distance route—Karachi to Islamabad. “I get Rs. 1500 per trip. A trip takes 26-27 hours. I make about 6 trips a month and that adds up to Rs. 9000 per month”. Born in a village in Musakhel, Mianwali, Najib dropped out of school after class 6 and was pushed into the labour market as a child. Initially he worked as bus cleaner and helper. When he got his license at 18, he took to driving. In 1973 he came to live in Karachi where he shares a rented accommodation with another person.
Najib’s family members (parents, wife and 5 children) work as sharecropper in the village. These days he is paying a monthly installment of Rs. 1000 to the money lender for a loan of Rs. 10,000 he took to help his family buy agricultural inputs. “There is one more driver along with me in the bus, and we take turns after 4-5 hours of driving, taking 2-3 hours rest in between. After each trip I am off the bus for 24 hours and busy with maintenance of the vehicles and carry out related errands. I get little time to spend with my family whom I visit fortnightly.” For Najib, there are no holidays, no medical or other facilities and no social security.
Click on the link below to view the full report:
Road Transport Workers in Pakistan