A funeral worker in India says, “I am in contact with hundreds of people every day, many of them coming from hospitals, including ambulance drivers. I don’t like thinking about how much risk I am at. But there’s no question of backing out when there is so much to be done.”
Who do you think of when you hear the phrase “frontline warrior”? A doctor or nurse? Police officers? Amid the chaos brought about by the second wave of COVID in India, one of our key warriors has not received the recognition they deserve. They are the funeral workers bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s unprecedented loss of life.
With each passing day, they are getting increasingly overworked and grossly underpaid. They risk contracting the virus, work for up to 20 hours a day and wear PPE kits the entire day – if the unbearable heat allows them to.
Despite this, they often earn a salary of Rs 5,000 to 7,000 per month. They work at high personal cost and risk contracting the virus and transmitting it to their families. With no safety net safeguarding their health, and no money to compensate for their strenuous work, funeral workers stand out as a vulnerable and unappreciated group. Moreover, since many funeral workers come from marginalised castes, their concerns are often put on the backburner.
We want immediate intervention for these workers to work under humane conditions and be adequately compensated. Sign this petition to ask the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Minority Affairs, and the Ministry of Labour & Employment:
- For a higher salary
- To mandate that their employers provide health insurance
- For ‘frontline worker’ status for funeral workers and priority vaccination
Together we can work towards ensuring the safety and well-being of funeral workers. Take action now!