LAHORE, July 25: The working class observed the safety day by holding meetings all over the country on Thursday.

In Lahore, a meeting was arranged at the Labour Hall under the aegis of the Pakistan Wapda Hydro Electric Workers Union (CBA), which was attended by trade union representatives and workers of the electricity department.

Lesco Chief Executive Officer Arshad Rafiq said it was the fundamental right of workers to refuse to work in case of non-observance of safety regulations at workplace. He said the Lesco management had been trying to improve quality of safety equipment and training facilities.

Trade union leader Khurshid Ahmed said more than 150 workers of the electricity department sacrificed their lives every year performing duties on lines and grids. The number of workers who lost their limb or became disabled was much more.

He said these accidents were mainly due to non-observance of safety regulations, lack of standard safety equipment and professional training of young labour force besides poor supervision by the officers concerned.

He urged the government to devise a mechanism for effective inspection of working conditions of labour in accordance with labour laws and the ILO Convention.

Khurshid Ahmad appealed that the compensation for heirs of the workers who lost their lives while performing duty should be increased to at least Rs2 million. This would help ensure better facilities to their families in terms of monetary help and the provision of education to their children.

Pepco Managing Director Zargham Ishaq said, in a message, that the line staff was now entitled to grant of danger allowance of Rs5,000 per month and upgradation of pay scales by two grades on completion of professional training or five-year service and doubling their group life insurance in recognition of hazardous nature of their work.Punjab Labour and Human Resource Department Secretary Capt Muhammad Yousaf (retired) said in a separate message that the legislation concerning occupational safety and health needed to be upgraded. The country lacked basic infrastructure and qualified personnel for providing occupational health and safety services to the workforce.

He said the Labour and Human Resource Department had been supporting the Centre for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment by holding high quality training courses there. He also asked the union to submit concrete proposals for ensuring safety regulations at workplaces and prevention of accidents and occupational diseases.

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