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Karachi

May 2, 2018

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Rally demands abolishing contract system to ensure job security

Participants of a rally held in connection with Labour Day on Tuesday demanded abolishment of the contract system in order to ensure job security of workers.

Organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and the Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), the rally started from Regal Chowk and ended at the Karachi Press Club with a blaring song about workers’ rights.

“With regards to the labour movement that eventually led to International Workers’ Day, many countries across the world adopted policies that strengthened labourers,” said Zehra Khan of the HBWWF.

“In Pakistan, however, workers are hired on contract basis even today, with the intervention of a third-party contract in many cases. We demand permanent hiring of these workers.”

Zehra stressed that workers usually do not know the employer they were hired for, which leaves them with no job security, let alone any right. “Also, while the minimum wage is increased by Rs1,000 every year, the growth of inflation is conveniently ignored, with the workers being unable to sustain themselves and their families. The wage should be at least Rs30,000 instead of Rs15,000.” She lamented that the pieces of legislation relating to home-based workers that were to be presented before the Sindh cabinet on Monday are still in limbo.

“We drafted the act and policy in 2013, but with five years gone, there hasn’t been any follow-up in this case. Labour policies aren’t included in the mandate of political parties,” she said.

“And proper representation of workers is still missing. With the elections approaching, I think all parties should sincerely think about workers and constructively make efforts for their betterment.”

Referring to the 2012 Baldia garment factory fire, Zehra said the authorities should release the pension of all those who lost their lives, because the families have been driven from pillar to post.

HBWWF Joint Secretary Shamim Bano, who does zardozi work near Gadap, said she participated in the rally to honour the struggle of all those workers who laid their lives for their cause.

“My father was a worker like me, and I had to seek donations for my daughter’s wedding because we are paid low wages. We just demand our basic rights, which are to be treated equally in terms of wages, health and other benefits that may improve our lives.”

HBWWF Finance Secretary Saira Feroze said their struggles remain the same even today, there is no social security and even now if a labourer dies, nobody bats an eyelid. Nasir Mansoor of the NTUF said that alongside rights for labourers, they also demand an end to enforced disappearances as well as an immediate response to the demands put forward by the Hazara community that recently lost its members to violence.

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