Safeguarding labour rights: Anticipated demands, repeated promises

Published: May 3, 2011
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Minister lists facilities provided to labourers in response to demands.

Minister lists facilities provided to labourers in response to demands.

PESHAWAR: 

A modern residential colony for industrial workers costing billions will be established in Regi Lalma, said Khyber-Pakhtnkhwa’s Minister for Labour while addressing a function on International World Labour Day in Hayatabad industrial estate.

Sher Azam Wazir informed that another plan for the construction of 10,000 residential units in other areas of the province has also been finalised with free English medium education for labourers’ children.

He said labourers have been provided better health facilities and free medicines, while technical skills centres have been established to train the female members. He said labourer rights are universally safeguarded, and the need of the hour is to restrain from committing excesses against them. The minister also paid tribute to the martyrs of Chicago, a 1886 rally in support of striking workers during which an unknown number of civilians died.

Wazir said that the PPP government had announced a revolutionary labour policy as a ‘gift’ to the labourers on May Day last year. According to this policy the government fixed the minimum wage at Rs7,000. In case of an accidental death the grant was increased from Rs0.1 million to Rs0.3 million and eventually set at Rs0.5 million. Similarly, he said that a dowry grant for the marriage labourers’ daughter had also been increased from Rs50,000 to Rs70,000.He also commented that the government was following a friendly labour policy on the lines of their founder Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had been the voice of the labour community of Pakistan. He also added that the government will prioritise the labour class’s welfare in the future.

Meanwhile, different labour organisations commemorated Labour Day by staging rallies to pay homage to the martyrs of Chicago with the resolve to continue struggle for the rights of labourers. National Labour Federation held rallies in Haripur, Bannu, D.I. Khan and some other cities of the province in which, Suzuki Driver Union, Handcart Union, Quinche Rickshaw Union and various other groups participated.The rally marched from Govt. Higher Secondary School Peshawar City No.1 to Peshawar Press Club.

The participants of the rally were carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans relating to May Day. The speakers’ demands included relief for the labourers according to the price hike, ownership rights in labour colonies, official residential colonies to the concerned employees, ending labour exploitation, extending social security to the labourers of brick kilns and Employees Old-Age Benefit Institute (EOBI) pension.

They also called for granting immediate right of pension to contract employees and fixing salary to the price of 12 grams of gold.

Railway Workers Union also staged a rally led by Divisional president, Syed Ashfaq Bacha, chairman, Haji Ghulam Haider, divisional general secretary Farhad Khan and senior vice president, Riaz Qureshi. They demanded the abolition of the five percent reduction in the name of Quarter Allowance and  resolved to  continue the  struggle against exploitation and social injustices in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2011.

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