Thiruvananthapuram

Women workers at petrol pumps find the going tough

The noxious fumes of fuel are only one of their problems. Women workers in petrol pumps in the city are finding the going tough. Overworked and underpaid, they face an uncertain future.

The meagre wage of Rs.310 a day is inadequate to make ends meet, they say.

“It costs me Rs.50 to commute to work and back. Money for Provident Fund and for shortage of fuel on account of excess dispensation is deducted from our salary. The workload is heavy, and we are not paid accordingly,” says single mother Soumya, who is also the only breadwinner of her family.

“A sense of frustration is what we feel when we get paid,” says Soumya.

The women’s pleas for a permanent job have gone unheard. They are temporary workers despite having spent over a decade dispensing fuel. “I have been working here for the past 19 years, but am scared of losing my job at any moment. We have filed many appeals before the government. A case is pending before the High Court as well,” says another worker.

In government petrol pumps, the festival allowance is limited to Rs.600, whereas their counterparts working in private pumps receive one month’s salary as allowance, the women say.

“Allowances are limited to Rs.600. Who can meet the expenses of school reopening season with this paltry sum? We are not even considered human beings,” says a dejected woman worker.

The inadequate facilities at the pumps add to their woes. The women cannot sit, even if there are no customers at the pump. Toilets are not cleaned properly, and the chances of contacting infections are high. The toilets do not have proper doors or strong walls either. “We do not have a private place to change our uniform or have food. The only space is what you see there,” says a worker at a pump, pointing towards a small room filled with machines and air compressors. To eat, they have to sit on the floor, which is full of oil and dirt. Most of the women workers have health problems such as frequent headaches, asthma, and menstrual irregularities owing to the smell of the fuel and the irregular work hours.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 5:20:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/Women-workers-at-petrol-pumps-find-the-going-tough/article14413954.ece

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