Politicians least concerned about workers’ problems: labour leaders

May 1, 2013 Off By Web Desk

Karachi: All political parties of Pakistan by not including the problems and plights of labours in their electoral manifestoes have proved that they want to continue the ongoing system of capitalism and feudalism based on the principles of exploitation, said speakers of the 127th May Day big gathering at Labour Square, SITE area here on Wednesday, organized by National Trade Union Federation NTUF.

They said the political parties are toeing the agenda of imperialism and they have no interest to solve the burning problems of labours. They said under these circumstances the Pakistani workers are left with no option but to establish their own revolutionary political organizations to struggle for the rule of labours and peasants.

They said in the global labour movement the day of first May 1886 has got a special importance. Beginning from the Haymarket Chicago this labour struggle and resistance wrote a new chapter in the human history of sacrifices. On that day the historic war of human labour against the supremacy of capital got a new direction. The history of last 127 years is replete with immortal sacrifices and huge victories of workers against the atrocities of capital.

The speakers noted that on the first of May 2013, the Labour Day is observed in whole world including Pakistan under circumstances where the crisis of capitalism has giving the working class nothing but hunger, poverty, diseases, joblessness, wars and bloodbaths. The lives of contemporary workers are bitterer than the lives of the Chicago workers who gave their flag red colour with own blood. They said last year more than 300 workers were burnt alive in Ali Enterprises Baldia Town Karachi fire, but the capitalists and the government remained least concerned.

Criticizing the dismal working conditions for labours in connection with their work hours and health and safety facilities, they said in recent past a factory of Bangladesh also witnessed the tragedy same as Ali Enterprises Karachi, and about 150 workers went burnt alive. Recently, some 400 workers died in Bangladesh when a multi-storeyed building housing five factories caved in. They said despite these inhuman working conditions, the international goods producing factories in a race to earn more and more profit are playing with the lives of workers. They said to stop this cruel wastage of human lives it is necessary that a regional strategy should be devised.

The labour leaders said the ruling elite were toeing policies on the dictation of foreign monetary institutions and they have withdrawn subsidies from the basic necessities of food, education, healthcare, public transport and fuel, hitting hard the purchasing power of masses. They said the real wages of labours instead of any increase have braved more than 100percent decrease.

They said the conditions in Pakistani industrial organizations are even worse. In the formal sector only 4percent workers have appointment orders and right to form their unions, while more than 94percent of workers of formal labour sector despite working for years in factories and mills have no right to prove themselves as labour in labour courts or social security organizations.

In Pakistan there is workforce of 54million, about 29percent of total population but devoid of their basic and legal rights. In factories and workshops there is virtually a medieval mode of labour where workers toil like slaves. Labour laws are in books but away from practical implementation. The labour department officials and mill owners are jointly responsible for this criminal negligence. It is fact that Pakistan so far has ratified 34 conventions of International Labour Organization ILO, but practically there are facilities available for labours as per these conventions.

The gathering participants condemned the action to block electoral process with terrorism and appealed to all democratic forces to jointly raise voice against this trend; otherwise, this menace would damage all progressive elements. They said the working class remained on forefront of all campaigns for the restoration of democracy and independent judiciary but after end to dictatorships, the judiciary and democratic system failed to redress their sufferings. They said in the democratic era the voice of workers was not only suppressed with brutal use of force but even workers were booked under antiterrorism act.

The speakers said when now the country is once again going to polls these political parties have failed to give any solid program and strategy regarding workers in their manifestoes. They said the leaders of these parties who own mills and lands themselves have deprived their workers and peasants of their basic rights. These leaders saving hollow slogans have nothing to give Pakistani workers. In these circumstances the message of Labour Day 2013 is that the working class irrespective of any ethnic, linguistic, religious and sectarian divide should organize them on class basis and go for an unending struggle to bring a real change. Only this attitude would give birth to a revolutionary atmosphere in which the workers have nothing to lose but their chains, and the society would get rid of the clutches of capitalism and feudalism.

The gathering through a resolution demanded that the minimum wages should be fixed at Rs20000 per month. In all institutions including Karachi Shipyard and Gadani ship breaking industry the labours should be given the right of unionization and electing their collective bargaining agents. All factories should be registered under the factories act and labour inspection process should be initiated. The workers should be given appointment letters and all citizens should be given cover of EOBI and other social securities.

It demanded that work schedule of 42hours a week should be introduced and pension should be raised equal to one monthly salary. The labours of informal sector, especially the homebased workers, should be covered under labour laws and given the right of forming unions and getting social security benefits. The workers of agriculture and fisheries sector should also be given the above facilities.

The gathering demanded that illegal and unconstitutional contract labour system should be ended and locales be preferred in employment. The real leaders of workers should be given representation in EOBI, social security, and workers welfare fund. The workers should be given facilities of healthcare and workplace safety, by ratifying the related ILO conventions.

The brutal use of antiterrorism act against workers and labour leaders should be stopped and the punishment handed to labour leaders of Faisalabad power loom workers should be annulled and cases against Karachi power loom workers’ leaders should be withdrawn. The act of using ISO certification and audit as labour laws should be stopped and all multinational industries working in textile, chemicals, mining and other sectors should be made bound to follow the local labour laws. The local and international labour laws should be implemented in export processing zones.

The gathering asked for immediate payment of compensation of the heirs of Ali Enterprises martyrs. The process of privatization should be ended and all privatised institutions should be renationalized. Workers and peasants should be given due representation in parliament. All discriminatory laws against women workers be ended. The feudalism should be ended and the lands of feudal lords distributed amongst the landless Haris. All pacts with imperialistic organizations including World Bank and International Monetary Fund IMF should be annulled. Ditching the imperialism all foreign capital should be forfeited.

The workers demanded to end the military operation in Balochistan, recovery of all missing persons and ending the malpractice of whisking people away. The drone attacks should be stopped and the occupation American forces withdrawn from Afghanistan and other countries.

A large number of workers, students, women and youth, carrying red flags participated in the program presided over by NTUF president Muhammad Rafiq Baloch. Senior labour leader Usman Baloch was the chief guest.

The speakers also included Nasir Mansoor, Ghani Zaman Awan, Shafiq Ghouri, Zehra Khan, Riaz Abbassi, Allahwarayo Lassi, Abdul Muhammad, Abdul Shakoor and Shehla Rizwan. Children Aliza and Kainat recited the revolutionary poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.