The Punjab Labour Department has failed to ensure the rights of labourers in the province, as the political leadership is not serious in resolving the problems of workers, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
Labour protection: Punjab Labour and Manpower Minister Ashraf Sohna admitted in the Punjab Assembly that more than 30 million people were attached with the labour profession but the department had enrolled only 0.75 million people out of the total labour force of Punjab.
Unfortunately, the record of agricultural sector workers was never prepared by the labour department. To make things worse, there was no law for protecting the agricultural sector workers and nothing could be done for their betterment.
Domestic women workers: Punjab Tourism Parliamentary Secretary Rana Arshad raised an objection on a point of order regarding Sohna’s statement while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Ishtiaq Ahmed demanded the minister’s resignation due to his poor performance.
MPA Syed Hassan Murtaza urged the Punjab government to quit adding that the provincial government was not performing its duties efficiently. During the question hour, the minister told the house that no law was made to protect agricultural workers due to which the Punjab government was unable to protect the rights of agricultural workers.
Sohna informed MPAs that a bill relating to protection of domestic women workers rights was pending before the standing committee of the house. The minister said that the Punjab government wanted to ensure the minimum wage of Rs 7,000 for every worker but the labour department could not complete the task, as mill owners were not ready to implement the decision.
He said that the real problem in this regard was the non-serious attitude of the political leadership, which was not caring for the masses despite democracy in the country. Sohna said that the political leadership was hands in glove with mill owners and was not cooperating for taking action against the elements, which were exploiting the poor masses.
The minister said that labour inspections of factories and mills were not being carried out due to which the labour department had become a scapegoat. Sohna informed the house that after receiving a written complaint from a labourer, he visited a factory violating labour rights and found out that no labourer was receiving the minimum wage of Rs 7,000 per month.
Politician-industrialist alliance: The minister accused the largest political party of Punjab for protecting factory owners. He said that some top political figures had approached him for asking him to overlook the matter. Sohna lamented that no one was ready to protect the suppressed labourers of the province.
He said that he wanted to resolve the issue but the Punjab government was not interested in this regard. PML-N MPA Rana Arshad condemned Sohna’s remarks and said that the matter could have been discussed in the meeting of the provincial cabinet or the parliamentary party instead of the assembly’s floor.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that he would arrange a meeting between Sohna and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif within some days so that the minister could discuss the affairs of the labour department. The minister informed the house that by raising the issue on the assembly’s floor, he was informing Shahbaz about the situation. The minister said that he had asked the Punjab government to pay attention towards the issue but nothing was done in this regard.
Social Security Hospitals: The minister said that social security hospitals in the province were providing health facilities to all social security card holders without any discrimination.
He said that the department would establish a 50 bed hospital by January next in Sargodha for which funds have been provided by Pakistan Workers Welfare Fund. He clarified that the labour department was not receiving any funds from the Punjab government and was generating revenue from its own sources.