Wednesday May 25, 2022

Spending Eid Day at workplace

May 06, 2022

LAHORE:There are people who worked 12 hours a day and are not even paid minimum wage. There are several others, who are asked to stay at work even on Eid Day like petrol pump, hospital, pharmacy etc. One wonders what does a day like Eid meant for them. They remained on duty and away from their family on Eid day. In addition to their miseries, there are no low-end hotels open in the city from where they can buy their meals.

The staff at a petrol pump, hospital, pharmacy, emergency service and few general stores that operate round the year, are on duty, be it Eid or any other national holiday.

A bunch of workers at a petrol pump shared their views with this scribe that it crosses nobody’s mind to give some food to those serving people on Eid. “The rich do not give anything to anyone. They give only when they are in trouble. We are on duty, serving everyone. We are living in times when nobody offers even water to others. We take water from the filtration plant which is quite far off,” an old fellow said, adding, “Because ground water is not suitable for use here and that’s why we cannot consume it.”

A senior worker among them counted the blessings, among them Eidi from the employer and a team that cares for each other but the fact remains that the boys work for Rs15,000 to Rs18,000 a month and the Labour Department is oblivious of this. A huge number of workers in different sectors are not getting minimum wage and there is nobody to check that. “Minimum wage announced by the new prime minister is Rs25,000 per month but still we are not getting it”. It is worth mentioning that the boys working on petrol pump did not complain of wages. It was I, who asked them how many hours they are working and how much they are being paid. It was amazing to see that the young men were all jovial and uncomplaining. A middle-aged driver who has worked at several places, recalled how prices of commodities sky-rocketed in the last three and a half years. He said, “Go see for yourself, there is real hunger in villages” and started enumerating the prices of basic commodities. “Three and a half years back, the price of a tin of 16 litres oil was Rs2,240, now it is being sold for Rs7000. The price of a sack of sugar was Rs2200-23000 three and half years back, now the same is for Rs8,000. Here, a young fellow pitched in, “Even ½ kg chanay ki daal is for Rs120 now.” The other man, in his 60s, expressed his views that how life became unbearable during the last government just because of skyrocketing prices of essential items. “Chicken meat was Rs250 per/kg some three years ago but now it is Rs500 per/kg. Even then the former rulers smell conspiracy?” he asked.

“A sack of DAP was for Rs1,000 during the last PMLN regime, now it is for Rs4,000. Urea (50kg) was for Rs1,200, now it is for Rs3,000-3,200, that too in black,” the fellow went on to say. The boys said, “The price of petrol has hit Rs160, it never went beyond Rs90 in the last govt.” A seasoned driver said, “Four tyres that we would buy for Rs3,000 are now being sold at Rs72,000.” This was rather surprising. The boys said, “even though we saw much price-hike during the last govt, the ruler was honest.” They got into heated discussion. Whatever that meant, I thought it best to leave them there for my office.