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Workers belonging to the All Pakistan Workers Confederation-affiliated trade union hold a rally in front of the Lahore Press Club to mark the International Labour Day. — White Star
Workers belonging to the All Pakistan Workers Confederation-affiliated trade union hold a rally in front of the Lahore Press Club to mark the International Labour Day. — White Star

LAHORE: Various political parties, social and trade union bodies took out processions as well as organised seminars and meetings to mark Labour Day or May Day here on Wednesday.

The All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF) marched from Hamdard Hall to the Punjab Assembly. A large number of workers from various trade unions, including Railways Workers’ Union, Hamdard Union, PHA Workers’ Union, LDA Union, Muller and Phipps, Shaheed Habib Union, Pakistan Unilever, Royal Leather, M Hafeez Industry, Model Town Society Union, Coca Cola, Pepsi Workers Union, domestic and bonded labour and people from different walks of life joined the procession.

Led by APTUF leaders Sultan Khan, Aima Mahmood, Fazle Wahid, Munir Dogar, Nasir Mahmood, Salma Liaquat and others, the participants raised slogans in favour of their demands and vowed to continue the struggle for the working class. They were holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans condemning the rising prices, poverty, unemployment and government reluctance towards implementation of labour laws. They shouted slogans against forced labour and exploitation of women at workplace.

APTUF General Secretary Aima Mahmood said the government lacked vision and planning to provide employment to the youth and women. She demanded social and legal protection mechanism for the 73 per cent labour working in the informal sector, amendment to the Factory Act 1934, and the need for participation of women in trade unions and their input in decision making.

APTUF Chairman Sultan Khan said every worker should be provided social security and workers welfare fund. He said the government should announce Rs25,000 as minimum wage.

Other leaders of the APTUF also addressed on the occasion demanding raise in salaries, implementation of labour laws, labour inspection of industrial units as per ILO Convention, end to forced labour and representation of labour class in national and provincial assemblies.

The Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan staged a rally on The Mall that was attended by thousands of brick kiln workers from all over Punjab as well as lawyers, students, trade unionists and representatives of civil society organisations. Its Secretary General Syeda Ghulam Fatima, President Martha Perveen, Vice President Advocate Naik Muhammad and others spoke there.

Ghulam Fatima said political disruption and hyperinflation were thrusting poor brick kiln workers into bonded labour. She demanded five million houses for brick kiln workers out of the 50 million planned by the government as well as Insaf Sehat cards.

APWC: Thousands of workers belonging to the All Pakistan Workers Confederation-affiliated trade union held a rally in front of the Aiwan-i-Iqbal.

Carrying national flags and banners, the workers took out a procession on The Mall in support of their demands. It was led by General Secretary Khurshid Ahmad along with President Rubeena Jamil and veteran journalist IA Rehman and other trade union leaders.

The participants also passed a resolution condemning price hike and demanded the government freeze prices of essential commodities and bring to book hoarders and black marketers besides raising wages by at least 30pc, fix minimum wage at Rs30,000 and pension Rs15,000 in the forthcoming budgets.

The resolution also demanded permanent status for contract and temporary workers, provision of work environment that is free from hazards and accidents and the federal government use the Rs1 trillion workers welfare fund to provide housing facility to workers and education to their children. It also demanded the government impose taxes on elites and get deposits in foreign banks recovered for tackling poverty, elimination of abuse of child and bonded labourers and discrimination against women.

MKP: The Mazdoor Kissan Party took out a procession from Thokar Niaz Baig. Riding trucks and rickshaws, the participants marched up to The Mall to join the APTUF rally.

PPP: The PPP Lahore chapter rallied outside the press club. Its leader Hasan Murtaza alleged that the government has been “established” to crush the rights of workers.

Azizur Rehman Chan, Aslam Gill and others recalled the measures taken by the PPP for the welfare of workers. They termed the government’s assurance to the IMF of imposing huge taxes in the forthcoming budget a cruel and anti-poor step. They said the government had also announced that it need not go to the IMF as it had received heavy packages from Saudi Arabia and China.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2019