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May 2, 2018

Rallies pay tribute to Chicago martyrs


May 2, 2018

LAHORE: Working class all over the country commemorated International Labour Day on Tuesday by holding meetings and procession and rallies in order to pay tribute to martyrs of Chicago (USA) who sacrificed their lives in order to get accepted their just demands of daily eight hours working.

In Lahore, labourers and workers took out rallies. The participants of the rallies were chanting slogans against capitalists and governments. According to them, rulers, opposition, and capitalists all are directly responsible for the labourers’ exploitation.

Farooq Tariq, spokesman for Awami Workers Party, demanded that minimum Rs25,000 per month wage be given to worker in the country. According to him, ruling class exploited the labourers and workers. Both the ruling party and opposition did nothing for workers. State should provide free health and education services, he demanded.

The city’s main rally was taken out from Hamdard Hall, Lytton Road to Lahore High Court building under the banner of All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF). General Secretary APTUF, Aima Mahmood criticised the government for not addressing issues of labourers, farmers, unemployed youths and women workers. She highlighted the plight of female employees at workplaces.

Speaking on the occasion, All Pakistan Workers Confederation general secretary Khurshid Ahmad said, “We have not forgotten the martyrs of Chicago who laid their lives for eight hours a day work”. He demanded minimum wages to Rs3,000 for workers. He also demanded decent work for the workers. Labour working on contractual bases be given permanent employment, he demanded. Muhammad Arif of Textile Power Looms and Garment workers Federation demanded that workers be given EOBI and social security cards.

A woman releases a boat into the Ravi to fulfil her wish on Shab-e-Barat. Photo by Mansoor Ahmed

Our correspondent adds: Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) staged a rally of kiln workers on the eve of Labour Day to express solidarity with labourers and workers here Tuesday. Labourers, workers, students, kiln workers and trade unionists, lawyers, intellectuals participated in the rally and chanted slogans against capitalists.

They demanded the end of child labour from brick kilns and other venues, including workshop, tea stalls etc. Social security cards must be provided to every labourer at brick-kilns. Addressing the rally, Syeda Ghulam Fatima, head of BLLF, said that worst form of slavery could be observed at kilns everywhere in the country. She lamented that children have been working at kilns from remote areas of the country. The Punjab government had introduced Prohibition of Child Labour Act 2016. It must be implemented with real spirit. She demanded a legal framework to implement international policy on human rights standards in the country in the context of “Decent Work Agenda of ILO” duly signed by the government. She said the wages of kiln workers is not calculated per their work. Therefore, notified wage is firstly too low to meet both ends. In addition to this, even this too low wage is not fully paid and kiln owners are earning Rs4,300 million per year by deducting wage of ignorant workers under the pretext of never ending debts. She demanded for the living wage in the kiln industry. She said there was no safety equipment for the labourers. They have been working 12 to 18 hours despite that their earning is less. They cannot purchase medicines if they fall ill. They are malnourished; there is no clean water for them. Their girls are abducted and raped by the kiln owners.

Labour Day rally: Mumtaz Mughal, Aurat Foundation Resident Director, has demanded that agriculture must be declared as an industry. Speaking at a really in connection with Labour Day here on Tuesday, she demanded protection of agrarian workers’ rights in labour laws.

She said there was a dire need to develop a roadmap for the promotion and protection of agrarian women workers’ right as labour rights in provincial legislative and policy framework of labour.

Kaira: Pakistan People's Party Central Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira has said that labourers are backbone of the country and the PPP has always defended their rights as per the vision of its leaders, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. Addressing a rally organised by the PPP Punjab in connection with Labour Day, outside the Lahore Press Club Tuesday, Qamar Zaman Kaira said that dictators and present rulers had remained on same page against labourers as they had always made anti-labour policies. He stated that the PPP had always safeguarded the rights of the workers, labourers and peasants, adding it wouldn’t let anyone carry out their exploitation.

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