The government should practically accept the labours of agriculture sector as workers under the labour laws and give them all the benefits accordingly, said speakers of a consultation on Friday evening.
The consultation on “applying labour laws on farm workers” was held at a local hotel by the Sindh Agriculture General Workers Union CBA (registered) and National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) with Hari leader and vice president of Sindh Agriculture General Workers Union CBA Khatul Faiz in the chair. Representatives of labour unions from different areas of Sindh, trade union leaders and officials of Sindh labour department and International Labour Organisation (ILO) attended the consultation.
NTUF Central Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor said it was heartening that in Sindh the workers belonging to agriculture sector were recognised as workers. However, it was necessary to provide these workers all the rights that were being enjoyed by the other labours of Pakistan as per the labour laws, he added. “In 60 million workforce of Pakistan, the workers belonging to agricultural sector are about 60 per cent. In Sindh, the agricultural workers are buried under the worst feudal system of dark ages. It is the responsibility of the provincial government to provide the agricultural workers due facilities of social security, collective bargaining and submitting their disputes in labour courts for their settlement. In this regard a tripartite consultation should be held to give the agricultural workers their genuine legal rights.”
Labour leader Rafiq Baloch said this was a big success of the workers of Sindh that their NTUF friends in fisheries and agriculture had succeeded to make their labour union. He said now this movement was spreading in whole province and it would give a new zeal to the worker movement in Sindh. Considering the peculiar conditions of Sindh, the unity of industrial and agricultural workers would emerge as a force against the parties of feudal lords and industrialists, linguistic groups and religious extremism.
Joint Labour Director Gulfam Nabi Memon congratulated the agricultural workers on formation of their own union and said with their cooperation efforts would be taken to apply labour laws on them. He said the labour department would play its role to submit the recommendation of this consultative meeting to the government of Sindh.
Sindh Agricultural General Workers Union CBA vice president and Hari leader Khatul Faiz in her presidential address said the Hari movement of Sindh was the custodian of praiseworthy revolutionary traditions and now the workers of Sindh had once again risen, carrying the banner of the movement started by Haider Bux Jatoi. She said there were 10,000 members of their union and in 13 districts of Sindh its organisation had already been completed at district and Taluka level including Karachi, Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan, Sanghar, Matiari, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Mithi, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas and Tando Allahyar Khan. The organisation of the union is being extended also to other districts.
It is a special feature of this union that women and workers belonging to minorities groups are joining it in large number. It is the need of the hour that millions of labours working in farms and fields should be granted all their rights under the labour laws including registration with the social security institutions, effectives steps of health and safety at workplace, minimum wages, grants, residential schemes, pensions and other perks. She announced that in mid April at big Hari-Mazdoor convention would be held in Hyderabad in which the representatives of haris and labours from whole Sindh would participate.
On the occasion, a seven-member working group was formed, which would float suggestion about the rights of farm workers under the labour laws and present them to the government.
Other speakers included Sindh Agricultural General Workers Union CBA president Ali Ahmed Panhwar, senior vice president Lal Bux Sathio, ILO representative in Sindh Abid Khan, labour leaders Gul Rehman, Riaz Abbasi, Habibur Rehman Junaidi, Manzoor Razi, Hameed Mian, Muqadar Zaman, Zehra Khan, Saira Feroz, Abdul Rehman, Muhammad Saleem, Muhammad Jamal and others.