FAISALABAD: The Labour Qaumi Movement, an association of powerloom workers, have planned to stage public meetings against former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah for NA-106 and Sheikh Khurram Shehzad, a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate for NA-107, saying both candidates have exploited workers for years.

However, scores of workers are not happy with the approach of LQM leaders and they said that instead of approaching the people responsible for the exploitation, the group’s leaders were playing politics on the issue.

Rana Sanaullah is contesting from his native provincial constituency as well as NA-106 against Dr Nisar Jutt, a PTI candidate, and Saeed Iqbal of the PPP.

Shehzad is facing veteran politician Haji Akram Ansari, who served for a couple of months as the state minister for textile and lived in Ghulam Muhammadabad. This area falls in NA-107 and Sidhar in the NA-106. Both areas have hundreds of powerlooms factories and dozens of people were directly or indirectly attached with this business.

A couple of months ago, the LQM had announced its support for the PTI and their office-bearers and workers had started to campaign for the party.

However, now the LQM did not want to help Shehzad and announced its opposition to him.

Abuzar Ghafari, an office-bearer of the LQM, told Dawn that they would chase each candidate who had exploited the rights of labourers. He said due to the alleged indifferent attitude of Rana Sana and Shehzad, workers had been facing a financial crunch for years. Scores of labourers were working for over 18 hours a day to make both ends meet.

He further claimed that Shehzad was an industrialist and had laid off scores of workers from his factories and also deprived others of the employees’ old-age benefit dues and social security cards. He held Shehzad responsible for the poor financial condition of workers.

“We are demanding respect for workers like the PML-N is demanding for voters,” he added.

Imran Ali, a powerloom worker in Faizabad, said his factory was situated just a few metres from the residence of former state minister Ansari and the workers had invited his attention several times towards the pathetic condition of the textile industry. Mr Ansari did nothing to help who them or the factory owners.

He said they had evidence that powerlooms had been sold against Rs65 per kilogramme and scores of owners had gone bankrupt due to the indifferent attitude of the previous government.

“I am unable to understand the stance of LQM leaders that they are opposing a man (Shehzad) who has control only over his own factory instead of opposing the person (Ansari) who was heading the textile ministry, which deals with the entire sector,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2018