Despite an excruciating neck pain, Shamsul Haque went to work at Rajshahi City Corporation on January 26.
The 56-year-old resident of Daspukur area had valid reasons. Though he had been working at the mosquito control department for the last 26 years, he was yet to be regularised.
The father of three had been working on verbal appointment on the basis of daily wages. For him, to miss a day's work meant not getting paid.
“That kept him worried most of the times. He tried his best not to miss a day,” said his wife Kohinoor Begum.
On the day, soon after reaching office, Shamsul collapsed. His colleagues took him to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. Doctors said he suffered a stroke. The right part of his body has become paralysed, read his medical report.
Ultimately, what Shamsul feared the most happened -- he was unable to continue working, though he had four more years left till retirement.
He was released from the hospital a week later, but misfortune pursued.
Unable to continue further treatment, he started seeing a homeopathy doctor in his area. That also required money and the only savings he had was the 20 days' salary for the month of January, which he was yet to collect.
Since he was not a regularised employee at the city corporation, he would not receive any retirement money or pension even after working there for over two decades.
Shamsul is not the only one who is suffering this fate, more than half of total 2,700 employees of the city corporation are serving on daily wage basis for at least 15 years, according to city corporation officials.
Most of them are leading an uncertain life and likely to complete their services without being regularised, they added.
Talking to The Daily Star, Md Zafrul Hasan, executive director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies, said an employee deserves regularisation once he works at a place for six months at a stretch.
But most authorities “deliberately deprive” them of this to avoid extra expenditures, he said. “In most cases, these employees are not issued appointment letters. At times, their services are shown discontinued on papers,” he said.
Unfortunately, Hasan said, the existing laws barely offer any support to mitigate this situation. A proposal for mending legal loopholes was thwarted during amendment of labour laws in September 2018, he alleged.
Contacted, RCC Mayor AHM Khairuzzman Liton said he became aware of the “inhumane practice” recently. “These employees serve for years, and yet they leave empty-handed at the end,” he said.
He said they have started preparing an employee database with an aim to regularise skilled and competent workers.
Meanwhile, a paralysed Shamsul Haque, who used to operate a fogger machine, went to the RCC office to withdraw his wages on February 20.
His son carried him to a bank inside the premises. Shamsul drew Tk 8,000 from there -- his 20 days' salary (Tk 400 per day).
While waiting at a corner, a number of his colleagues gave him some money. His 25-year-old son was running around pleading with the officials to give him his father's job so that he can support his family.
“We are worried about our future now,” said Shamsul's son Nazrul Islam while wiping sweat off his forehead.
Just then, another city corporation official walked inside the bank. “Please excuse me,” Nazrul told this correspondent and went up to him to request for a job.