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Workers demand Easter holiday

Discrimination against Christians alleged

Workers demand Easter holiday
Sanitation workers in Lahore reporter, Lahore

March 28, 2013

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Hundreds of Christians protested in Lahore yesterday against alleged discrimination and demanded Easter holidays.

Chanting anti-government slogans, sanitation workers demanded Good Friday and Easter Monday off. They also want to be recognized as permanent, full time workers.

“The companies must respect our holy week. We are already deprived of worship services, since Sunday became a working day," said Mushtaq Asi, president of the Sweeper’ Union. "These are all attempts to aggravate religious hatred."

Last year the Punjab government launched a new solid waste management system in the provincial metropolis of about 10 million people. According to the union, 7,486 Christian sanitary workers in Lahore earn 300 rupees (US$3) a day.

“There are no holidays at all," Asi said.

"We are a poor community, yet our salary is deducted if we arrive a few minutes late. Also there are many sweepers from minorities working on daily wages even after more than a decade of service. The Muslim workers, on the other hand, enjoy all allowances and benefits," he said.

Waseem Ajmal Chaudhry, managing director of the Lahore Waste Management Company, denied the allegations of discrimination.

“They are a bunch of retired workers with no affiliation with the company any more," he said. "The decision of making an employee permanent comes from the government; we cannot do that.

“We know they are poor and pay them if they are needed on a public holiday," he said.

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