Speakers at a labour forum criticised the local industrialists for gender discrimination and keeping their female workers underpaid.
The labour forum was arranged by Sahara Development Foundation, a local civil society organization, on Thursday. The participants blamed the local entrepreneurs for usurping blue-collar community’s rights.
They pointed out that women hired for certain local packages units were the worst off, as they were hired for Rs100 per day. “Though some food industries hire these women at minimum wage, they are forced to work 12 hours a day continuously,” said Mian Zahoorul Haq, a local labour leader.
He told the participants that the women who venture out to earn a living due to financial problems are exploited in various ways. “They are deprived of paid leaves, maternity leaves, medical cover and EOBI services,” he added accusing the social security, EOBI and labour departments for being hand in glove with the violators. The working environment for women labourers is also unfavourable in Haripur, he added.
But that’s not to say that men are much better off. Very few workers get the minimum wage of Rs7,000 per month, announced by the prime minister two years back. Furthermore neither are they issued EOBI and social security cards or appointment letters at the time of hiring, he added. They are also not entitled to any form of health insurance or security claims -- quite worrisome given the hazardous nature of the industrial work they do.
Qamar Hayat from Sahara said that some industrialists have hired labour contractors. Hayat said these contractors subject the labourers to exploitation one way or the other, usurping their rights. The forum also discussed the problems of non-payment of salaries to the workers of Tarbela Cotton Mills, Khalabat Township.
DCO Haripur, in his concluding remarks, assured the participants that the industrialists would be made to respect labour laws.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2011.