Two women in India could possibly be the lowest-paid workers in the world. Just how much do they earn?
Akku and Leela Sherigar saved their earnings for 40 years!
After scrubbing toilets in southern India for 40 years, without taking a day off, they managed to save close to only US$103 each. That’s an average of just US$3 a year.
Both 59 years old, Akku and Leela started working at the Government’s Women Teacher’s Training Institute in 1971. Their salary started at 15 rupees a month, and it never changed.
Akku said, “We were promised a pay rise [sic] every year, but it never came. We trusted our employers, that eventually they’d pay us. We never believed it’d come to this. We take pride in our work. We couldn’t give it up. We have always hoped that we would get what we were promised.”
Finally, in 2001, they raised their complaints with the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal, in Udupi, India. Without proper notice, their pay was suddenly stopped. This did not stop Akku and Leela, however. They continued cleaning toilets, three times a day, seven days a week, for 11 years — for free.
In 2003, the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal ordered the government to give the two women their dues. However, not a single rupee was given to them.
Despite their anger, they decided to apply to the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s lowest-paid workers. With the help of supporters and the media, they hope that something positive will come out of their current situation.
“All we want is what is due to us, what our hard work through the past 42 years deserves,” Akku said.
I hope nothing but the best for these two dedicated ladies.