MINGORA: Ishaq, 15, was mixing gravel with cement under the scorching sun to earn livelihood for his family when many people were celebrating labour day in the country. He was unaware of the day.
Ishaq and his uncle Ibrahim live in Kohistan Gat area in Saidu Sharif. They come to Mingora everyday to find work. For the last one month, they have been working at a construction site as labourers. They fetch stones, mix gravel with cements and perform many other tasks at the site.
“We do not know what is labour day and we have never enjoyed a holiday on May 1 because nobody has informed us about it,” Ishaq told Dawn while mixing gravel and putting it in a pot.
Ishaq says he can’t afford to spend a day without work
He said that he did not want to have off day on May 1 as it meant a day without money.
“If I do not work a day I lose about Rs600. My family cannot afford it as we need money to have food and other daily use items,” he said.
The young labourer said that he never went to school as the nearby school in Saidu Sharif was at a distance of more than three kilometres from his house and his parents did not want to send him there.
Ishaq said that he did not have any means of entertainment except going home in the evening and spending the time with his family in the night.
“I do not watch TV as we don’t have electricity. I don’t play sports as our house is on a mountain and there is no playground nearby,” he said.
For him, the best day is Friday when he wears clean clothes and spends the whole day at home.
“For me every Friday is May 1 as I spend the day at home and enjoy it,” he said, adding that his other favourite day was when he was given early leave from his work.
A mason, who was working at the construction site, said that labour day was just a bookish thing and there was no benefit of it for the labourers or workers.
“The government must give gifts and awards on every labour day by inviting all labourers and workers to a function specifically organised for them,” said Abdur Rahman, the mason.
He added that he was surprised that on the day all government officers were enjoying a holiday but there were no arrangements for the daily labourers and workers.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2018