LAHORE: Labour and trade unions rejected on Friday the federal budget of 2015-16, calling it disappointing, anti-labour and pro-business-cum-ruling class.

They also criticised the PML government for awarding, what they said, peanuts to government employees and unskilled labour in pay, pension and daily wages.

Mutahidda Labour Federation Punjab general secretary Hanif Ramay said the federal budget appeared to be the budget for the business class as the man on the street hod get no relief as usual.

He said only Rs1,000 increase to the daily wages of unskilled labour had disappointed the labours as 80 percent of the private industry was not even paying the minimum wage of Rs12,000.

He said keeping in view the inflation and cost of living it was being expected that the federal minister would announce Rs15,000 as minimum wages.

Ramay said on the one hand the federal government announced 7.5 percent increase in pension of government employees, but pensioners of the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution, who were not given Rs6,000 pension despite the government’s commitment two years back, had been ignored.

Shahina Kauser, general secretary of the Women Workers’ Union of Punjab, also criticised the government for ignoring the labour class - victims of unbridled inflation and cost of living.

She said the government apparently appeased the business and rich class by announcing certain incentives.

“Visit any industrial area and you will find majority of unskilled labour working against Rs6,500 salary. Even skilled labourers like drivers, gardeners and tailors are not getting wages fixed by the government as per their categories,” she said. Only a couple of large industrial units and multi-national companies were implanting wage policy in letter and spirit, she added.

Pakistan Railway Employees (Prem) Union (CBA) in a news release also criticised the federal government for anti-people budget. It said the government allocated only Rs41 billion for railways against Rs200 billion allocated for highways and motorways and announcing 7.5 perc ent pay raise for government employees.

The union office-bearers said a 100 percent increase in the salaries of staff of ministers and only 7.5 per cent increase in other government employees implied that the budget was the ruling elite.

They said as railway officers, employees and trade unions had managed to save the sinking ship of railways without any government assistance as its freight transportation had earned eight billions in current fiscal, to ignore railways was beyond imagination. The union demanded Rs125b bailout package for railways.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2015

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