LAHORE: Unprecedented rate of unemployment, denial of fundamental rights such as freedom of association, health and education besides lack of recognition on the part of government will include the demands the working class will be highlighting during their May Day engagements while commemorating the Labour Day today (Monday).

The workers will also press for increase in minimum wages to Rs25,000, an end to privatisation of the utilities and forced labour besides protection of their other rights according to the ILO conventions.

All Pakistan Workers Confederation’s Rubina Jamil says a demonstration will be staged near Shimla Pahari on Monday noon to commemorate the historic struggle of the Chicago martyrs and to highlight poor health and safety conditions.

Rs25,000 minimum wages is part of the charter

They would also highlight discrimination and violence against women at workplace.

Aima Mahmood of the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation says workers will march from Hamdard Centre on Lytton Road to Mozang Chowk through Begum Road to reiterate the demand for empowerment of labour courts under the Punjab Industrial Relations Act (PIRA), social security benefits to informal sector workers and an end to bonded labour. Expressing concern over the aggravating economic and social sufferings of the working class allowing the rich to be richer and poor to be poorer, veteran trade union leader Khurshid Ahmed says the present regime has completed almost four years in office but has yet to take measures to ensure fundamental rights of workers.

“We still have laws like the Factories Act 1934, Boilers Act 1910, Mines Act 1923 etc. The government has yet to consolidate 72 laws governing the working class in Pakistan. No measures have been taken to revive tripartite labour conference under the amended Convention No 44 of International Labour Organisation.”

More than 200 workers die on an average annually while performing duties on lines and grids. The number of workers who lose their limb or became disabled has been much higher, says Mr Ahmed.

Pakistan Railways Prem Union senior vice-president Sheikh Anwar while seconding the assertion of Mr Ahmed says the government had been ignoring the working class in the railways.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2017


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