'20m people will lose their jobs during Covid-19 pandemic'

Activists demand universal social security system

​ Our Correspondent April 27, 2020
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Unemployment allowance must be provided to all workers under a universal social security system by the federal and provincial government, demanded trade unions and labour leaders during a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) executive director Karamat Ali stated that notable economists had expressed the fear that as many as 20 million people will lose their jobs due to Covid-19 in the country.

He added that these same economists had suggested that a universal social security system be launched within three months using existing institutions in Pakistan, pointing out that of over 40 million workers in Sindh, only four or five per cent were registered with social security institutions.

Ali called upon President Dr Arif Alvi to present a report on the implementation of the Principles of Policy chapter of the Constitution, including the implementation of articles pertaining to the provision of social security to all citizens, in parliament. He added that he had recently spoken to Alvi on the matter and had been assured such a report would be presented in the next joint parliament session.

Ali further stated that around 10 economists had been contacted for building a blueprint for implementation of this, which would then be presented to the president for consideration.

On the provincial level

Meanwhile, Democratic Workers Union of State Bank of Pakistan leader Liaqat Sahi claimed that labour leaders were being threatened for protesting the non-implementation of the provincial government's directives about worker rights.

He added that a petition has been filed in Sindh High Court (SHC), based on which the SHC has issued notices to Sindh Governor Imran Ismail inquiring why he has not signed the Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020.

National Trade Union Federation general secretary Nasir Mansoor added that if the ordinance could not be issued without Ismail's signature then the Sindh government must pass legislation in the Sindh Assembly to achieve the same end.

Stating that workers' bodies fully supported doctors in their advice to observe a strict lockdown, Peoples Labour Bureau senior leader Habibuddin Junaidi also expressed deep concern at the lack of implementation of government orders telling employers not to lay off their workers amid the lock down.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2020.