LAHORE: Civil society organisations (CSOs) unanimously demanded on Thursday that the culprits of Baldia Town factory fire be brought to the court of law as soon as possible in order to build the confidence of millions of workers.

They also urged the Punjab government to implement labour laws to address labourers’ issues.

At a provincial dialogue titled “Labour issues, bonded labour and role of labour courts in justice provision” organised by the Citizen Commission for Human Development, they decided to constitute a forum consisting of government officials, CSOs and trade union representatives so as to influence the labour department to create workers’ friendly environment at workplaces.

“CSOs should also try to ensure passing on 100 per cent social security benefits to brick kiln workers,” Bonded Labour Liberation Front Secretary-General Syed Ghulam Fatima said on the occasion.

She also demanded that those involved in the Baldia Town tragedy be sent behind the bars.

Aima Mahmood, executive director of the Working Women Organisation, said there were still many issues regarding equal wages for women workers and that the labour department should ensure equality between men and women workers. She also stressed the participants to launch a campaign to bring about a change in the attitude of employers towards married women, as many employers did not hire married women workers.

Mehboob Ahmed Khan from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said labour laws in Pakistan needed to be overhauled.

MPA Dr Najma Afzal said the Punjab government had taken many initiatives to address the issues of women workers, including the passage of a bill for the establishment of day care centers at workplaces.

Malik Nazir Ahmad, Labour and Human Resource Department director, said the Punjab government had allocated billions for the eradication of child and bonded labour from the province.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2015

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