KARACHI, October 7
Precarious work conditions in Pakistan have became a menace for workers and they should get them organized to achieve the target of decent work, said speakers of a rally here Monday on the occasion of the world day for decent work.
The rally was jointly organized by National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF). NTUF also arranged such rallies in Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Hassan Abdal and other cities and towns.
In Karachi the rally started from Habib Chowrangi Site Industrial Area and ended at Siemens Chowrangi. It was jointly led by Zehra Akbar Khan general secretary HBWWF and NTUF Sindh chapter president Gul Rehman. A large number of industrial and home-based workers attended the rally.
The speakers said that capitalism under the agenda of neoliberals has made unsafe working conditions ad deprived workers from decent work to earn huge profits. They said this policy has resulted in growing poverty, price hike and joblessness. International lenders like World Bank and IMF are compelling different nations to adopt these anti-workers policies. To fight these policies it needs an international movement of workers.
Speaking to the rally, NTUF deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor said that Pakistan has been braving the worst economic crisis of its history. He said unprecedented depreciation of the Pakistani rupees has slashed the real wages of workers by 50percent. He said more than 95percent of workers are deprived of basic facilities like pension and social security. He said illegal contract work system is operational in 90percent factories in Pakistan. He said 85percent of 68million Pakistani workforce is compelled to do precarious work. He said only one percent of Pakistani labor force are organized in trade unions.
HBWWF secretary general Zehra Khan said that the main weapon of neoliberals is to shift industrial work from organized to unorganized sector, resulting in a sharp increase in home-based workers. Majority of home-based workers are women, who get fewer wage as compared to male workers. He said as per a survey a home-based woman worker is paid Rs 11884 and for the same work a male worker is paid Rs19946.
In addition she said that working conditions in Pakistani workplaces are dangerously precarious. She said industrial mishaps are an order of the day. The government and industrialists did not learn any lesson from the tragedy of Baldia factory fire in September 2012. She said after this tragedy more than 100 other workers have died in different industrial mishaps. She said in 46 major mishaps in coalmines 320 workers have already died in Pakistan. She said as per an estimate every year some 200 miners in Pakistan die due to precarious working conditions.
Noted labor leader Riaz Abbasi said that precarious labor is a form of modern day slavery and forced work. He said that according to Global Slavery Index 2018 in Pakistan 3.2million workers are facing slavery like conditions. He said every fifth worker in Pakistan is compelled to take leave due to workplace mishaps. He said mining and construction sectors are notorious for mishaps and precarious conditions. He said all this is being happening when the constitution of Pakistan, and Bonded Labor System Abolition Act 1992 declare slavery and forced labor as illegal.
NTUF Sindh president Gul Rehman said that Pakistan has already ratified the convention 36 of ILO, and it has gotten a special status due to GSP+, due to which the exports of Pakistan to European Union have increased from 4.5billion Euros to 6.8billion Euros. Pakistani textile industry is the main beneficiary of these agreements but the government and industrialists are not fulfilling their commitments under these agreements to give due rights to their labors. He said there is no mechanism about how workers can lodge their complaints under these systems and hence the government and industrialists are getting benefits but they are reluctant to give workers their due rights.
The rally demanded that:
– For permanent jobs, permanent appointments should be given to workers along with written appointment letters.
– Contract work system in its every shape should be abolished.
-Workplace conditions in mining, ship breaking and other such sectors should be improved.
-Hong Kong Convention about ship breaking and ILO convention about mining should be ratified.
-The minimum wages of workers should be converted into living wages.
-Workers should be given paid holidays.
-8-hour working day should be accepted and double wages should be given for overtime.
-All workers should be registered with social security institutions.
-Training of workers should be arranged.
-Workplaces should be made safer for workers.
-The right of workers to make labor unions and go on strike should be accepted.
– Upliftment of textile and garment sector and protection of workers, there is need of Pakistan Accord similar to Bangladesh Accord.
– Global Framework agreement should be implement in its true sense and workers issues should be solved.
– To stop the violation of workers’ rights, there is a need for a strong monitoring system in GSP+ mechanism.
Other speakers included G&P Courts Union President Abdul Rehman, Muhammad Zahoor from Rauf Textile Mills, and Muhammad Asif from Habib Oil Workers Union, Saira Feroze general secretary of united home-based garments workers union, Saeed Baloch of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, Bakhat Zameen Khan of SITE Labour Forum,, Saeeda Khatoon chairperson of Association of affectees of Baldia factory tragedy and Advocate Paryal Mari.