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September 17, 2020

JI forms labour wing to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on workers

Karachi

September 17, 2020

The Jamaat-e-Islami’s Karachi chapter has announced the formation of its labour wing to address the issues faced by the majority of workers who are working on a contract basis as well as those working in informal sectors.

JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman made the announcement this week and said labourers were already living from hand to mouth, but after the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the workers had been badly affected.

Clarifying the scope of work of the JI labour wing from the National Labour Federation, a JI-affiliated trade union body, Rehman said the former mainly worked in industrial units in the form of an effective trade union body. “But the JI labour wing will mainly focus on workers, who are in majority, that are not registered with any governmental body and their rights are severely abused.”

“A lack of written labour contracts, inadequate legal protections, and poor enforcement of labour laws and regulations have heightened the problems for such workers,” he said.

Rehman also announced that NLF’s senior leader Shahid Ayub would head the JI Karachi labour wing. JI leader from District Malir Saleem Ahmed has been made secretary-general while Abdul Razzaq Khan, JI Karachi’s deputy secretary-general, will work as the labour body’s caretaker.

On Wednesday, the JI labour wing held its first meeting at Idara Noor-e-Haq, the party’s secretariat, and discussed strategies to spread the organisation’s outreach to the workers in the city’s various industrial areas and press the industrialists to resolve their

issues.

Ikramullah, a JI leader in the Landhi Industrial area who had campaigned against the expulsion of workers and salaries’ deduction during the lockdown period, welcomed the formation of the party’s labour wing, and said the COVID-19 situation had emphasised the need for the formation of a labour body that could work to address the rights of the unregistered and informal workers without ethnic and sectarian biases.

“During and after the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of workers have been dismissed from their jobs and their wages were denied under the illegal contract system,” said

Ikramullah.

JI and labour politics

Formed some 51 years ago by JI founder Syed Abul A’la Maududi to mainly counter the spread of socialist ideology among the labour class and trade unions in the country, the NLF is currently working as one of the major trade unions’ federations in the country.

In a study, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recognised the NLF as the third largest trade union body of Pakistan after the Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) and the Muttahida Labour Federation (MLF).

Sectors where the NLF-led trade unions have been operating include telecommunication, shipyard, civic agencies and local bodies, transport, rice mills, metal, glass bangles, fertilizer, sugar, beverages, wood, and engineering sectors, said a study titled ‘A Profile of Trade Unionism and Industrial Relations in Pakistan’.

Besides the JI, only two other political parties in Pakistan – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – have their active labour wings. The MQM-P’s United Workers Front and the PPP’s Peoples Labour Bureau ranked sixth and ninth in the ILO ranking with a membership of 4,700 and 3,700 respectively, said the ILO study.