LAHORE: More than 150 kiln workers and rights activists on Monday staged a demonstration in front of the Punjab Assembly chambers in support of democratic government and to demand better wages.
They carried red banners reading “Only democracy ensures peace, prosperity and good employment for workers”, “Fight for democracy” and “Social security is our basic right”.
They also shouted slogans including “Stop conspiracies against the democratic government”, “We support democracy” and “We are against any kind of undemocratic setup”.
“We are protesting to show our support for democracy. We believe that the rights of bonded labourers and kiln workers can only be achieved in a democracy,” said Maher Safdar Ali, an executive member of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan (BLLF).
“Democracy allows us the freedom to protest and struggle for our rights,” Ali told The Express Tribune.
BLLF General Secretary Syeda Ghulam Fatima said the minimum wage for making 1,000 bricks should be raised from Rs740 to Rs1,500.
“We have arranged skill development programmes for bonded labourers from Jia Bagga.
They are being trained to make handicrafts. The government should also start similar programmes,” she said.
Rukhsana Bibi, a labourer, said labourers should be issued social security cards immediately.
“We don’t want our kids to work at kilns. But we have to send them there to meet our financial needs,” said Mumtaz Bibi, a labourer.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2014.
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