They carry more than the permitted maximum luggage, don't wear proper clothes, and in case of health problems, medical care is not guaranteed. The situation of porters at Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa, as described by Andrea Schirmer-Müller, leaves much to be desired. While the wages are not bad for East African standards, porters pay a high price to earn their living.
They risk their health, and sometimes their lives. Trade unions are weak and tour operators are able to exercise significant pressure. Acting responsibly would include observing existing regulations (e.g. limited visitor numbers of 60 tourists per day, and the maximum weight a porter may carry). Introducing certified tours that guarantee international labour standards for porters might lead to improvements. -ck-