I AM studying the practice of labour laws in the country, and find the laws to be in favour of the workers. However, the reality on the ground is pitiable and gruesome. The list of these laws is long, and so is the list of provisions inserted in the acts and articles guaranteeing labour rights.

From 1926 to 1968, and then from 1969 to 2013, industrial laws were framed, legislated upon and amended from time to time. Sadly, these laws have never been implemented in letter and in spirit to secure the rights of the workers.

The notorious incident of the Baldia Town inferno took hundreds of lives in 2012 because of poor fire-fighting provisions in the factory. The explosions at Gadani shipbreaking yard in 2016 took more than 20 lives. The most recent incident is the chemical factory fire tragedy at Korangi which claimed more than 20 lives. All the people were burnt alive due to the unavailability of evacuation and escape routes, let alone the absence of fire-fighting and safety measures.

Where is the loophole? There is a labour department and a social security department fully funded and equipped with salaries and packages. But when will they wake up? Article 37(e) and Article 38 of the Constitution insist on providing humane and just working conditions to workers besides other guarantees, including social security coverage. The people squandering resources of these departments and the country at large must be sent back to the academies to learn the laws relevant to their assigned jobs so that such horrible incidents may be averted.

Zahoor Memon
Nawabshah

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2021

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