Labourers’ rights: CM wants 1,000 illegally occupied flats vacated immediately

Published: October 22, 2016

KARACHI: Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has ordered divisional administrations to have 1,000 illegally occupied labour apartments vacated immediately.

He took this decision while presiding over a meeting on labour department issues on Friday at the New Sindh Secretariat.

Briefing the chief minister, labour adviser Senator Saeed Ghani said that around 1,000 apartments had been constructed in Gulshan-e-Maymar for industrial workers. The apartments were allotted to workers through balloting but the workers have not been able to move in as people from the police department, other government departments and private organisations have illegally occupied them.

The CM directed Karachi Commissioner Ejaz Ahmed Khan to take action against these encroachers and have the apartments vacated. “This is not acceptable,” he said. “The flats are meant for workers and must be given to them.”

Worker welfare

Labour secretary Rasheed Solangi said that there were 765,000 workers registered in Sindh. He added that these workers and their dependents were being provided healthcare facilities via five hospitals, five medical centres and 39 dispensaries.

Senator Ghani said that under International Labour Organisation conventions, universal social security must be provided to all the workers even if they are self-employed. He proposed the collection of 3% of the minimum wage from these workers in order to provide them with health and education facilities.

Discussing ways to implement the plan, he said that a Benazir Card issued by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) will be given to the registered workers for them to avail health and education facilities. Self-employed workers will avail facilities through different campaigns. Senator Ghani said that since the plan will benefit them, therefore the workers will likely prefer to contribute.

Terming the proposal ‘good for every worker living in the province’, the CM urged Senator Ghani to prepare a detailed plan and discuss it on different forums. “We will approve it once a consensus is developed on it,” he said.

Shah directed the labour department to develop a database of their 765,000 registered workers and their dependents. “You must have a computerised system in which all the details of [every] worker must be uploaded in order to maintain a proper record and transparency and a similar arrangement may also be made in the labour department’s health facilities,” he said. “We must take advantage of technology for keeping proper record.”

Merging institutions

The meeting’s participants also discussed the fact that most of the functions or objectives of the Sindh Employees Social Security Institution, provincial Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution and Workers Welfare Fund are similar.

Therefore, Senator Ghani suggested the merging of these institutions into a single institution to avoid unnecessary duplication and to make it easier for employers and workers to deal with a single platform.

The CM directed Senator Ghani to coordinate with law adviser Murtaza Wahab and the provincial advocate-general to put together a proposal.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2016.

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