LAHORE: The workers, especially those in the informal industry, have been facing numerous issues, including low wages and lack of medical facilities at their workplaces.

While the situation is relatively better in the formal industry, particularly the textile sector, there is still a need for interventions to ensure adequate wages and other benefits under labour laws. Unfortunately, the government’s labour department has also failed to ensure the implementation of minimum wage payments and other facilities for workers.

“I’m getting Rs20,000 per month, and sometimes, even less than Rs20,000 due to deduction in case of leaves, fines, etc,” said, Akram, a worker in a small factory situated on Lahore’s Bund Road.

“There is no medical, no bonus, or appreciation,” he deplored. “Life is becoming tougher day by day,”

Another worker, Aslam, mentioned that anyone who raises their voice for a monthly salary of Rs25,000, as declared by the government under the minimum wage policy, is immediately dismissed. According to him, in recent months, his employer outsourced the provision of human resources to a private company to avoid paying the minimum wage. He questioned how workers can survive on such low wages, especially during a period of significant price hikes.

Aziz Goheer, secretary of the Pakistan Textiles Exports Association, claims the textile industry is fully complying with the ILO conventions on labour. “Additionally, all have gone through international certifications regarding labour and social standards,” he told Dawn.

Speaking to Dawn, Punjab Labour Department secretary Asadullah Faiz admitted the fact, stating the department offices receive many complaints related to payment of wages less than the minimum wage fixed by the government and other problems being faced by the workers at workplaces.

“The situation is worst at shops, small factories, mills, etc, as the workers there are not being paid Rs25,000 per month. They are also not being given the medication, overtime, or other facilities,” he said. He also called the situation unsatisfactory at some big factories.

“They (big factories) have started outsourcing the labour provision to third parties that often pay less wages,” he said.

However, Mr Faiz claimed that his department has been doing a lot to improve the situation through pro-labour decisions by the commissioners for workman’s compensation on various petitions, labour inspections by labour inspectors, and the provision of medical facilities for workers in social security hospitals.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2023

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