Occupational safety of the blue-collared

Labour laws must be separately categorised for those working in industrial and production units or construction sites


Editorial March 12, 2019

Amid equivalent to none labour safety laws, the country has failed to provide its blue-collar class minimal of occupational safety. The regulation that exists in the form of a few acts and ordinances are far from proper implementation. In spite of the availability of heavy machinery, work at construction sites and production process in industrial units remains heavily labour-intensive, whereas absence of stringent labour laws puts the lives of more than 50 million labourer at risk.

This past weekend, six labourers fell off the thirteenth floor of an under-construction building in the vicinity of Boat Basin, Karachi due to the rupture of the trolley lift rope carrying the now-deceased for fixing glass on the building. With cases being filed against the parties involved at the area’s police station, the police are still on hunt for the building owner and his partners. As a common practice, in legal proceedings for such cases, the contesting parties are the extremely powerful and politically-backed real estate bigwigs against the extremely underprivileged families of the labourers.

In numerous cases, like the Baldia factory fire incident, victims are usually silenced in lieu of a monetary compensation that can, in no way, make up for a lost life. Furthermore, ineffectual labour department of the government, local government authorities and labour courts as well as absence of labour unions have made the situation all too grim.

As a police case alone, followed by court inquiries, won’t serve the purpose, the provincial government needs to expand the scope of the existing legislation to over occupational safety at construction sites and post-accident coverage for the victims alongside that of the builders and real estate developers involved. Extensively, labour laws must be separately categorised for those working in industrial and production units or construction sites. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2019.

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