Labour activists on Friday vowed to continue their struggle for the rights of the workers until the government fulfills the registration of factories and restore the procedure of labour inspection in the industries across the country as per the law.
At a protest rally taken out in solidarity with the workers killed in the Baldia factory fire, the activists under the umbrella Workers Rights Movement (WRM), also decided not to sit quiet until the contract system from the industrial sector is eliminated, which they termed as ‘a curse for the laborers’.
The rally began which began at Regal Chowk ended at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) was lead by Usman Baloch, Nasir Mansoor, Jafar Khan, Gul Rahman and others. A large numbers of laborers of different industrial zones, students, political workers, women and human rights associations participated in the protest.
The speakers urged the government to accept the due demands of the familes of Baldia factory fire which they have been making since the day the tragedy struck.
The speakers while addressing the participants of the rally said that sacrifices of the workers who were burnt alive would pave way for the revolution.
They said the greed of capitalists to squeeze large profits and non-implementation of labour laws on industrial sector created this deadly incident of Ali Enterprises in which around 300 labourers were burnt alive.
They said hundreds of workers got serious injuries and thousands of them have been rendered jobless.
They said the state and the government’s departments associated with labour issues have become puppets in the hands of mill owners and the phenomenon has turned the workplaces of labourers into their deathtraps.
The labourers’ representatives said that workers of factories at large are deprived of appointment letters. They said these workers in absence of appointment letters have no access to the rights which they duly deserve under the constitution.
They said they have no basic right to form union at factories. According to them practically labour inspection is suspended at all the industries which is causing so many deaths of workers these days. They said the laborers are being treated as salves and they are being forced to work 12 to 14 hours in factories which is denial of the their basic rights.
They said majority of the workers have no other option but to work in inhuman environment and contract system has been imposed on them do deny their rights.
The speakers of the rally were of the view that the laborers are not being awarded the minimum wage of Rs8,000 per month which the government had set for unskilled workers. They lamented that majority of the workers have not been registered with Social Security Institute, Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institute (EOBI) and with other organizations which were established to protect the rights of the workers. They said these workers have no right to get pension which they deserve if they are registered accordingly.
Moreover, these speakers lamented that the incident of Baldia Town has proved that the government is least bothered about workers’ problems. They said this was the reason why the victim families were running from post to pillar to get bodies of their beloved ones even after about two months have passed since the incident.
The labourers’ representatives expressed gratitude over the orders of Sindh High Court which it made regarding labour inspection and about releasing of DNA reports of the victims. They said the time has come that the government should acknowledge the importance of the labourers who are backbone of the economy and accept their due demands immediately.
They demanded that all legal heirs of the burnt factory should be compensated and report should be made public about missing workers. They also demanded that DNA reports should be released within no time and bodies of labourers currently kept in Edhi Centre’ mortuary should be handed over to the relatives.
They demanded restoration of labour inspection at all the factories and at all industrial zones besides practicing safety measures at industries to safeguards the lives of the workers.
They demanded eight hour working schedule for the labourers and also demanded appointment letters for all of them besides eliminating contract system from the industrial sector.