ABSTRACT

In this chapter, I examine the nature of conservancy work in the cities of Mumbai and Johannesburg. Keeping these cities clean through collection and disposal of solid waste is the responsibility of the urban local bodies in both cities, with their sprawl and population demanding the engagement of a large number of workers. Several years of association with a union of contractual conservancy workers in Mumbai formed the base for studying those engaged in similar work in Johannesburg. Interviews with workers in both cities, as well as with leaders and organizers of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) and Kachra Vahatuk Shramik Sangh (KVSS, the Waste Transportation Workers’ Union) in Mumbai, and with a key functionary of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) were carried out at various times between 2010 and 2013 to obtain current data and details about the situation.1