The Hama City Council has recently made several decisions, one of which involves the appointment of 38 successful candidates from last year’s central competition held by the Ministry of Administrative Development as cleaning workers.
Raed al-Moubayed, the director of hygiene in Hama, commented on this development and stated to Athr that this is the first time cleaning workers have been appointed in Hama. Out of the 38 workers appointed, only 22 have started working while 16 are yet to join. They believed that the job may be similar to that of a worker employed in government buildings, however, it was explained to them that their job is to clean the streets, sweep, and collect garbage in a cart before emptying it into large containers. This is the nature of the work of cleaners.
According to him, these female workers were allocated to the neighbourhoods of Sharia, al-Shir, and al-Barnawi. Marwan Sheikh Khalil, the cleaning supervisor, further clarified to Athr that 16 of these workers were assigned to work in the neighborhoods of al-Baath and al-Barnawi. They are facing great difficulties, especially since they have to bear transportation expenses from their places of residence in al-Ghab, Aqrab, Kafr Bahm, and other areas, which has resulted in some resentment amongst them.
Female Workers: This is not a job for a female!
During their conversation with Athr, some of the workers expressed their disapproval of the nature of this work, which is typically associated with men and does not align with female roles. For instance, “A.Q.” stated that although she has been appointed, she will not join the work due to the social stigma associated with being a female cleaner on the street. She believes that such work may also expose workers to harassment. Moreover, she fears that being an unmarried cleaner may make it difficult for her to get married and start a family since society may not view this profession positively.
One of the direct assistants at work, who requested anonymity, stated that she accepted the job reluctantly as there were no other options available. She also mentioned that the wage was insufficient to cover the cost of living, and the salary barely covered her transportation fares to and from her place of work. Additionally, it was noted that all the cleaners employed in the city of Hama reside outside the city, and there are no means of transportation to other areas.
In light of this situation, the Director of Hygiene in Hama emphasized that it is not feasible to relocate any of the cleaners outside the city of Hama, in accordance with the guidelines outlined in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Letter No. 9708, dated 17-8-2022. This letter states that employees must remain committed to their assigned work center and cannot request to be transferred, delegated, or assigned to a different work center. The letter also stresses the importance of adhering to the employment status and terms of the assigned work center.
In the same context, a number of Hama residents criticized the appointment of females as cleaners, and some considered that female workers may be subjected to ridicule or harassment, while some wondered how the Hama City Council asks for female cleaners.
Hama City Council explains:
Engineer Mukhtar Hourani, the head of the Hama City Council, told Athr that when announcing the central competition for cleaning workers, one of the conditions of employment was that the workers had to be male. The job responsibilities were clearly defined, and he was surprised to see females appointed for such positions. Although he believes in gender equality, he does not think that certain jobs, such as this one, are suitable for women.
It is important to note that the aforementioned workers are employed on an annual contract that is renewable, with a salary of 93,000 SYP. The job also includes a nature of work allowance at 85% of the wage, a meal allowance of 300 SYP for each working day, as well as two sets of work suits, rainwax, leather shoes, and two pairs of boots.
The Secretary-General of Hama Governorate, Mahmoud Al-Qassab, informed Athr that all applicants must be fully aware of the nature of the work and have signed a commitment letter to work without seeking to change it. Meanwhile, Abdul Salam Saba Al-Arab, the head of the Human Resources Department in the Hama City Council, who reviewed the successful female applicants for the job, explained that most of them might not have read the commitment letter they signed. Additionally, many of them lacked knowledge about the job description and its tasks, particularly since the required certificate was only a literacy certificate.
A source from the Ministry of Administrative Development informed Athr that the appointment of female cleaners in Hama governorate was based on the results of the competition, with appointments made according to the sequence of marks and fulfillment of the required conditions.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.