LAHORE: Parliamentary Secretary for Labour and Human Resources Mian Naveed Ali is not satisfied with the performance of his department.

“Officials at the labour and HR departments hardly discharge any of their duties. I have no hesitation in accepting failure of my department to implement minimum wages,” said the parliamentary secretary in his keynote address at a convention on labour and minimum wages issues here on Saturday.

Assuring his all-out support to resolve issues concerning the working class, Mr Ali promised to personally pursue the case of workers leader Lateef Ansari who was shot at and injured allegedly by some brick kiln owners of Faisalabad.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Dr Nausheen Hamid was of the view that minimum wages should be determined by qualified economists and not by bureaucrats. She said stakeholders must be involved in decision making and implementing mechanisms in order to improve working conditions of the working class.

Pattan Development Organisation National Coordinator Sarwar Bari said successive governments failed to improve working conditions of a large majority of the masses. “Minimum wage covers just calories needs of a person while human beings have other basic requirements too – shelter, clothing, education, health care etc. If the government intends to achieve its ‘education for all’ goal without giving ‘living wages’ this will never be fulfilled.”

Abuzar Ghafari, a labour activist from Faisalabad, informed the participants about Labour Qaumi Movement’s struggle to achieve minimum wages for kiln workers, its achievements and sacrifices. He particularly mentioned murderous attacks on their leaders by kiln owners.

Labour Education Foundation Director Khalid Mehmood said the foot balls manufactured in Pakistan were being used in World Cup because of their quality but the workers who made them were not paid living or minimum wages. He also pointed out that even in some government-run departments minimum wages were not paid.

The seminar was organised by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in collaboration with Pattan Development Organisation as part of a series of advocacy campaign activities undertaken under the banner of Provincial Governance Group – a coalition of leading civil society organisations, striving for good governance and rule of law in Punjab.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2014