Labour groups march for rights of underprivileged in Lahore

  • RWF, PYA present demands in favour of marginalised women

LAHORE: Several trade unions, including the Red Workers Front (RWF) and Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), held rallies in the provincial capital to mark the Labour Day and urged the government to ensure labour rights.

During the rally, RWF presented the following nine demands:

  1. Minimum monthly wage should be equal to one tola gold.
  2. Privatisation policy should be discarded completely.
  3. Labour working on contractual bases should be given permanent employment.
  4. Industrial safety laws should be vigorously imposed.
  5. Freedom to form labour unions must be given in all departments and industries.
  6. State should provide free health and education services.
  7. Aid from international monetary institutions such as International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) should not be accepted.
  8. Private banks and industries must be nationalised.
  9. Military budget should be decreased.

PYA and RWF also presented joint demands to “liberate” marginalised women. The pamphlets that were distributed had the following points:

  1. Laws that discriminate against women on the basis of their gender must be abolished.
  2. Women and men must be given equal pay.
  3. Women and men must be given equal opportunities of employment.
  4. Perpetrators of physical harassment against women in educational institutions and work places must be strictly dealt with.
  5. Class education system must be abolished.
  6. Unemployed women must be given employment or unemployment allowance amounting to Rs 15,000.
  7. House maids must be given equal status with women who work in industries.
  8. Women must be given full pay and official leave three months before and after pregnancy.
  9. Women must also be given the right to divorce.
  10. Laws pertaining to under-age marriage must be implemented.

A participant while speaking to Pakistan Today said, “Privatisation of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Pakistan Railway, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and educational institutions must be stopped immediately.”

“Marginalised women can only be liberated if socialism is introduced in the country,” she claimed.

While speaking to Pakistan Today, an RWF worker said, “Labourers have brought a message for fellow labourers.”

“There is an agitation among the workers of government and private institutions but the RWF demands that all these workers must unite and then protest so that the rulers bow down to our demands,” he added.

On being asked about their demands, the RWF worker replied, “Salaries must be increased, employment must be given, privatisation must be brought to an end, and we believe that a general strike must be called”.

WAPDA Labour Union General Secretary Khurshid Ahmed demanded that WAPDA labour should get increased salaries.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, a policeman, Arshad, who was guarding the Labour Day rally, said, “We are giving our mazdoor brothers protection because we are part of the police force, even though we are part of labour as well.”