A man who works in the cleansing industry in Gozo has opened up about the tough reality of working in the industry during the summer months, amidst a pandemic, in a post that has since gone viral.
Explaining what happened to him recently when he felt ill at work, Dave Maoga has exposed how some workers in Malta are treated when they do not have the proper safety nets.
Having been collecting rubbish during the morning shift since July, 2019, Dave’s been dedicated to doing his job because he knows how important it is for localities, even though he is a bit concerned about hygiene during a global COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was still working though I was afraid since I had to pick thousands of garbage bags, equivalent to thousands of handshakes. Now the temperatures are high and the sun’s UV but I have to pick a bag from your doorstep every morning, six days a week. I like the job, a good exercise and the fact that it’s service to people… very cardinal service for that matter,” Dave said.
Dave, who lives in Għajnsielem, said he appreciated it whenever someone would hand him a drink, some fruit or even a cooked meal, though he also noticed those who would cover their faces with clothes when he passed: “but I usually stink to keep the city clean”.
Dave barely ever takes time off, except for when he had exams. However, he was faced with how precarious his job really was when he suddenly felt sick at work.
“I woke up as usual. Never late. After an hour, I felt bad, nausea and dizziness. I started throwing up. I thought it was normal, though I have a thick throat, I hardly throw up. This happened repeatedly and I was generally weak. My boss/driver got worried and he knew today we will be late. We work two of us in the truck- collecting. My partner suggested to our boss that I take a rest and he was determined to finish since we had done half the work,” Dave said.
“I was shocked when the boss said this: ‘If you go to rest I am afraid I will let you rest for good, you better save my time’.”
The news that his boss would let him go because he was feeling sick and couldn’t continue half a day’s work left him ‘heartbroken’.
“I am always at work on time, whether it’s raining or sunny. I have worked diligently, respected him, no unnecessary leaves except for a few occasions when I have exams,” Dave said.
He knew how important he was to the job – yet he also knew how quickly he could be replaced.
“No leave because it’s very difficult to get an immediate replacement who knows all the streets. Half a day rest could cost my job,” he lamented.
He ended by calling on employers to have more empathy for workers, especially during a pandemic that is placing more pressure than ever on the working class.
“Corona has cost lives, lost jobs, lost businesses and finances but my boss will not afford half a day for me. I know we are bad, but my appeal is – please be nice to us. Humanity. Be good to us, our bosses. Blessings.”
His post garnered nearly 1,000 reactions and nearly 200 comments, with many thanking him for his hard work and dedication.
“From what I’m reading you seem like a very hardworking man… look for another job and leave your greedy boss! Rest assured it will be his loss, you deserve better treatment. Hope you get better soon and thank you for doing such a great job daily,” said one person among the hundreds of supporters he had.