Labours plan big protest movement for their rightsNovember 18, 2015
Karachi: Labour leaders here Thursday announced to launch a big protest movement for the rights of workers that would be beginning from Karachi.
Addressing a crowded press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC), they said that workers have been facing immense problems but the government is not serious to resolve them. They said that Pakistan is considered amongst those countries of the world where labours are deprived of their due rights. Though the state of Pakistan has ratified more than 37 conventions of International Labour Organization (ILO) and 27 points under the GSP+ that include the labour rights, but it has badly failed to get them implemented in factories, industries and workplaces. This is the proof of the class-based structure of the Pakistani state, as well as, its priorities. This is why the working conditions for our labourers are going from bad to worse with every passing day.
They said that in factories, mills and other workplaces no measures could be seen for the health and safety of workers. There is no system of labour inspection and the inspectors of the labour department are seen nowhere. In this grim backdrop precious lives of innocent workers go lost in gory industrial mishaps from Ali Enterprises Karachi to the factory building collapse in Sundar Industrial Estate Lahore. The anti-labour attitude of the government could be gauged from this scenario.
They said that the federal and provincial governments are continuing their anti-worker policies. A recent example in this regard could be found in the approval of the Sindh Workers Welfare Act 2014 without consultation with the labour organizations of the province. This whole process is undemocratic and open violation of the tripartite consultation. With this anti-labour act, the government of Sindh has increased the number of the members of the governing body of Sindh Workers Welfare Fund from 9 to 16, and thus paved way for giving representation to its cronies so that could embezzle its funds. The labour organizations reject this act and announce to challenge it in court.
The government of Sindh has not only passed the Workers Welfare Fund law, but also approved the EOBI Act 2014 in undemocratic manner without consultation with the labour organizations, especially those belonging to private sector. In this way a conspiracy is being hatched to deprive hundreds of thousands of workers of their right of pension and hence to embezzle billions of rupees.
They said recently the budget of Sindh Social Security for the fiscal 2015-16 was passed, but the three representatives of workers were expelled from the budget session by the advisor of Sindh government. Hence, this anti-labour budget was passed which is aimed at to open news vistas of corruption. Presently, the hospitals of Sindh Social Security face acute shortage of medicines. Even if some medicine is available it is fake or substandard. Its proof is the recent raid of anti-corruption department on the Valika Hospital of Sindh Social Security, in which a big quantity of fake medicines was recovered. No audit of the Sindh Social Security has been carried out for last 10 years.
Another lingering issue of workers is illegal occupation of 4008 flats, allotted to workers, by land mafia which is being allegedly supported by the provincial government. These flats were allotted to workers three years ago and the allottees have already paid their dues. However, the Sindh government has allowed land mafia to occupy 1000 flats in the name of flood affectees. However, the remaining more than 3000 flats are not being handed over to their allottees under different pretexts. The workers had moved the Sindh High Court to get justice and the chief justice of SHC on April 29, 2015 had ordered to give the possession of these flats to workers within 60 days. The Supreme Court of Pakistan also upheld the same judgment, but the Sindh government failed to implement it. Now the workers have filed contempt of case application in the Sindh High Court.
Due to the apathy of the federal and provincial governments the schemes of Sindh Workers Welfare Board including scholarships, dowry grant, death grant, education and provision of sewing machines have been put on the back burner since 2011 and millions of workers are suffering due to this.
They said that labour organizations today announce to formally launch a big protest drive from Karachi to realize their due rights. In this regard, their first protest demo would be held on Tuesday, November 24 at Ghani Chowrangi, Site industrial area Karachi at 4:00pm.
They demanded that labour laws should be implemented in all factories, mills and workplaces. Sindh Workers Welfare Act 2014 should be withdrawn immediately and a new act be passed after due consultation with the representatives of workers. The budget of Sindh Social Security for the fiscal 2024-15 has been passed illegally which should be withdrawn and a new budget be passed after taking on board the real representatives of workers in the governing body of Sindh Social Security. Those behind the scam of fake medicines in the Sindh Social Security hospitals should be arrested and given punishment as per law. Monitoring committees comprising workers and other stakeholders should be formed for each and every hospital of the Sindh Social Security. Audit of the financial matters of Sindh Social Security should be immediately conducted.
They demanded that the possession of the flats of workers should be given to the allottees and all halted schemes of workers should be restarted. Labour inspection system should be implemented in all factories and workplaces in consultation with labour organizations. The demands of the heirs of workers martyred in Ali Enterprises Karachi and Sundar Industrial Estate Lahore tragedies should be accepted.
Those spoke included Rafiq Baloch president NTUF, Nasir Mansoor deputy general secretary NTUF, Mukhtar Awan president Sindh Muttahida Labour Federation, Zahra Khan general secretary Home-based Women Workers Federation, Waqar Memon Chairman Pakistan Workers Federation Karachi chapter, Bakht Zameen general secretary Site Labour Forum, Riaz Abbasi general secretary NTUF Sindh chapter, Gul Rahman leader Workers Rights Movement, Ghulam Mustafa leader Pakistan National Federation of chemical, energy and pharmaceutical workers union, Aenul Huda general secretary All Pakistan pharmaceutical, chemical and general workers union and Ghulam Mohammad chairman Karachi Trade Union Action Committee.