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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the labour workforce is the engine of our industrial growth and economic system and real human uplift lies in the development of the country’s labour class.

He said that the Pakistan Peoples Party was from the very beginning trying to protect the rights of workers and after former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto it was his daughter Benazir Bhutto who further improved the labour laws to eliminate child labour.

He said now his government was planning for the welfare of children working in shops to support their families by providing them a stipend equivalent to their earnings and give them technical education so that they could be accommodated in different industrial units and factories. The chief minister was speaking at a programme organised by the provincial labour department to observe the World Labour Day on Tuesday here at the CM House. He also distributed welfare grants among the labourers.

‘Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had presented the country’s first-ever labour policy in 1972’

He recalled that it was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had presented the country’s first-ever labour policy in 1972 under which the Workers Welfare Ordinance, Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and Industrial Relations Ordinance (IRO) were introduced.

He said that the IRO had ensured job security of workers and industrial units and companies were bound to give bonus to their workers. He said that Ms Bhutto worked hard to eliminate child labour and improved labour laws. She reinstated the services of thousands of workers who were removed by dictators from different organisations, he added.

Worker-friendly legislation

Mr Shah said that his government not only presented a comprehensive labour policy prepared in consultation with all stakeholders but also made effective legislation to protect the rights of workers.

He said that the Sindh government legislated the Sindh Companies Profit (Workers Participation) Act, 2015; The Sindh Differently Abled Persons (Employment, Rehabilitation & Welfare) Act, 2014; The Sindh Workers Welfare Fund Act, 2014; The Sindh Terms of Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 2015; The Sindh Shops & Commercial Establishment Act, 2015; The Sindh Factories Act, 2015; The Sindh Compensation Act and various others.

The CM urged industrialists to contribute as per their share in the workers’ fund so that necessary facilities such as health, education and houses could be provided to the workers of the province. “They are the strength of your companies and they are the power of our economy,” he said.

He said as “the martyrs of Chicago are being remembered today, I don’t want to forget the workers, male and female, of the Baldia factory who were burnt alive in this city. Their sacrifice will always be remembered.”

He also recalled the services of former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari who he said introduced the 18th Amendment to the Constitution during his tenure as president under which various labour laws and functions of the federal government were devolved to the provinces.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Raza Rabbani shed light on the struggle of labourers for their rights all over the world. He also spoke about different laws introduced by the PPP government for upholding the rights of workers.

Mr Rabbani criticised the prime minister for inaugurating a new airport in Islamabad on the international labour day and also condemned him for not naming it after Ms Bhutto.

Labour Minister Nasir Shah discussed the new labour policy and termed it a big success of the PPP government.

Planning and Development Minister Saeed Ghani, labour leader Habibuddin Junaidi, industrialists Siraj Kassam Teli and Majyd Aziz also spoke.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2018