Sunday December 03, 2023

Measures to eradicate bonded labour stressed

By Our Correspondent
May 21, 2023

LAHORE : A conference on “State of Bonded Labour in Pakistan” was held by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in collaboration with Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) Pakistan here on Saturday.

The conference said 6.7 million human beings are doing forced labour. Referring to measures to eradicate forced labour by former Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the past, Syeda Ghulam Fatima, general secretary BLLF, demanded enforcement of same measures once again all over the country. She called upon media to create awareness among the masses and inform them about how bonded labour is living in subhuman conditions. She asked writers and academia to come forward to eradicating forced labour.

Abdullah Dayo, programme coordinator FES, highlighted the lack of data of victims of forced labour in Pakistan. The figures reported by International Labour Organisation, Walk Free International and Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan are all different. Immediate and accurate survey of bonded labourers is necessary for taking proper measures and planning. He stressed on strengthening of trade unions and alternative economic measures for agriculture and brick kiln labour, and small loan schemes to eradicate forced labour system.

Rana Mashhood, former minister education, informed the audience about his party’s decision to discourage offenders in upcoming elections. Any person involved in practicing forced labour system will not be issued party ticket for general election, he said. He assured to put the recommendations before the prime minster and advocate for their implementation.

Dr Ashraf Nizami, president Pakistan Medical Association, demanded implementation of Article 3, Article 11 and Article 38 of Constitution of Pakistan. Others who spoke on the occasion were Rubina Jamil, general secretary All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Mubashir Javaid, divisional director Social Welfare & Baitul Maal, Zafar Malik, executive director Aaghaz Foundation, Mahar Safdar Ali, programme manager Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan and Saira Iftikhar, chief researcher labour wing Muslin League-N.

The demands at the conference were: alternative economic measures, social protection, microfinance and small loan schemes for brick kiln and agriculture workers; immediate and appropriate survey for determining data of agriculture and brick kiln workers, mine and fisheries workers, and glass bangle makers; increase in wages in accordance with inflation; implementation of minimum wages award; safety at workplace, toilets, and suitable environment for agriculture and brick kiln workers, mine and fisheries workers, and glass bangle workers and effective legislation for eradication of forced labour system.