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November 27, 2020

‘Covid-19 outbreak has affected millions of workers in Pakistan’

Karachi

November 27, 2020

Speakers at a meeting on Thursday maintained that the Covid-19 outbreak had affected millions of workers in Pakistan in terms of job losses, wage losses and income curtailment. They warned that if not provided with systematic and timely support, the already-affected segments of society would face more economic hardships with the second wave of the pandemic.

They were speaking at a multi-stakeholder dialogue, titled ‘Job Losses, Social Protection and Labour Rights in the times of Covid’, which was arranged by the Democracy Reporting International (DRI) at a hotel on Thursday.

A group of parliamentarians representing treasury and opposition benches was in attendance. They said there was a need for increased parliamentary engagement and oversight on the government response to the affected workers were properly compensated.

“The impact of coronavirus is severe and the Sindh government has tried to help the affected people by providing ration and by bringing in a Covid Emergency Law, but much more has to be done,” said Lal Chand Ukrani, a member of the Sindh Assembly’s Standing Committee on Labour and Human Resources. “Our committee will discuss and ask the department for further relief,” he committed.

PTI MPA Arslan Taj and MQM-Pakistan MPA Mangla Sharma maintained that daily wagers and common people had lost wages and were in dire need of cash support. They said the parliamentarians would take up these issues on the floor of the house when the next session was held.

Nazar Ali, the general secretary of the Employers Federation of Pakistan, and Riaz Uddin, the vice president of the SITE Association of Industry, maintained that the local industry was in a crisis and needed the government’s support. The employers' representatives said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were the most affected and could not sustain shocks on their own till the government came in for their support.

Karamat Ali, the executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, underlined the need for the universalisation of social security to provide every citizen access to social security services. He said an unemployment allowance be provided to the workers who lost their jobs.

Other speakers included Zahid Hussain, additional secretary of the Labour; Shafique Ghauri, president of the Sindh Labour Federation; Habibuddin Junaidi of the Peoples Labour Bureau; Farhat Parveen, member of the Sindh Labour Standing Committee; MPA Kulsoom Chandio and DRI’s Naghma Iqtidar.

They maintained that these unprecedented challenges were having economic ripple effects across the country as millions of Pakistanis unexpectedly found themselves out of work with the potential for a significant increase in unemployment. They agreed that the government policies to counter the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on the workers were insufficient.