The Lahore High Court on Monday sought a detailed response from the Punjab government on a petition challenging the dismissal of hundreds of thousands of factory workers and private employees during the lockdown imposed in the province to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Accepting the petition for hearing, LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan directed the provincial government to submit a detailed report on the workers' dismissal at the next hearing on April 23 (Thursday), adding that a decision will be made after going over the relevant ordinance and the government's response.
The Punjab government, Department of Industries and Commerce, and the Department of Labour have been named as respondents in the petition that was filed by Advocate Ishtiaq A Chaudhry.
Chaudhry pleaded before the court that the Islamabad commissioner had prevented workers from being dismissed by issuing a notification. "The Sindh government has also taken steps to the same effect," he said.
According to the petition, a nationwide lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. But trade organisations and factory owners laid off workers during the lockdown in Punjab, it said.
“Trade organisations have also cut the salaries of workers in Punjab,” the petition read.
It further noted that the governments of Sindh and Balochistan had undertaken steps to protect the jobs of wokers in their provinces but in Punjab, it said, hundreds of thousands of workers are now facing financial ruin after losing their jobs.
The petition urged the court to instruct the Punjab government to reinstate all workers fired after imposition of the lockdown in addition to financial compensation for them.