Treat the cleaners decently

A sanitation worker in Xi'an was recently fined 900 yuan (US$133), or more than a third of her monthly wages, for cigarette butts found on the streets under her watch.

A sanitation worker in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, was recently fined 900 yuan (US$133), or more than a third of her monthly wages, for cigarette butts found on the streets under her watch.

Local street cleaners were fined one yuan for each cigarette butt found on their assigned areas. Local sanitation management authority allegedly targets at an extra 180,000 yuan income by fining cleaners this year, according to the online edition of People’s Daily.

This is eminently achievable, when you know that just minutes after a worker has finished sweeping a street, passersby begin to discard cigarette butts there. In frequented streets no cleaner can be efficient enough to keep up with littering. In order to improve a city’s environment, it is necessary to set strict performance assessment standards for sanitation workers. However, imposing such harsh penalties on them seems wrong.

Rather than pass the buck to cleaners, those passersby who litter about should be held responsible and face a penalty.

Moreover, before formulating standards to assess a sanitation worker’s performance, authorities should consult the workers’ opinion, instead of introducing penalties indiscriminately. The unreasonable penalty only justifies speculation that local management, in creating impossible high standards for cleaners, are taking a haircut off the hard-earned wages of the workers.


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