LAHORE, Sept 10: Participants in a consultative debate unanimously sought on Tuesday an immediate adoption of the Mines Act-1923 by the Punjab government in order to solve the problems being faced by around 40,000 mine workers across the province.

“The subject related to mines and the workers has become a provincial matter after passage of 18th Amendment. So, keeping in view the development, the Punjab government should have either adopted the Mines Act-1923, amended it or enacted its own law,” Actionaid-Pakistan programme manager said at the debate organised by the NGO in collaboration with the Muttahida Labour Federation (MLF) at a local hotel.

He said the event’s core objective was to help resolve various problems being faced by mine workers in province. However, these issues couldn’t be solved till adoption of federal laws concerned or making new ones by the provincial assembly, he added. He said Actionaid was engaged in various activities related to the mine workers’ uplift through launching effective projects.

On the occasion, MLF Secretary-General Hanif Ramay said thousands of mine workers had been facing problems relating to medical treatment, registration with Employees Old Age Benefits (EOBI) department, wages etc.

“Since the MLF just wants provision of all legitimate rights to workers, we will help the government in collecting complete workers’ data, besides arranging interactive sessions of workers’ representatives,” he added.

He sought development of mine workers’ colony and provision of water filtration plants and toilets near the mines for workers. He also urged the government to ensure payment of minimum wages to workers as notified by it earlier.

Ramay said the MLF had planned launching of an in-depth study on the workers’ living condition. “Teams have been formed to launch the survey in various districts where the mines existed,” he said.

Punjab Mines and Minerals Department Secretary Saeed Ahmad Nawaz said the government had started the process to adopt the requisite laws as mandatory under the 18th Amendment.

“We have also started visiting mines at various locations in order to physically observe and check the problems faced by the workers,” he said. He said mine contractors allegedly involved in denying rights to the workers in violation of the rules would be dealt with strictly, as there was no room for such conduct if the Punjab government policy guidelines are something to go by.

He also urged the participants to report to his office any problem faced by workers at their workplaces. He asked the Actionaid and MLF staffers and mine workers’ representatives to visit his office and suggest amendments (if required) to the existing laws on the workers’ rights.

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