‘Anti-labour rulers’ have ignored working class in mini-budget: trade unions

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KARACHI: A rally of trade unions claimed on Sunday that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has “completely ignored the working class in their minibudget which shows their anti-labour mentality”.

The rally was staged jointly by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Textile Garment General Workers Union (Korangi) against the illegal sacking of workers and blatant violation of labour laws.

Industrial growth and a boost in exports are not possible until labour laws are strictly implemented, the trade union leaders asserted.

Addressing the rally, NTUF Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor said that international garment brands have promised to ratify the Global Framework Agreement in order to secure better wages for their workers but things are not improving.

While it had been agreed that these workers would be given the right of making trade unions and there would be gender equality and proper health and safety standards, he said that the current situation is adverse as workers are forced to work for more than 10 hours a day, including holidays.

Making trade unions in these factories is considered as terrorism and those raising voice for these workers are being harassed illegally and sacked from jobs, it was revealed. Only two to three per cent of workers in these factories are registered with the Sindh Employees Social Security Institute and Employees Old Age Benefits Institute which shows the “widespread lawlessness” and “antihuman attitude of these industries”, Mansoor asserted.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Director Karamat Ali said thousands of workers have already been sacked from financial institutions, media houses, and industrial units “without any reason”.

The government and other related institutions are showing criminal negligence on these issues, he alleged. He stated that The share of textile and garment sector in the national industry is more than 50pc as it is the backbone of the national economy and provides 65pc of foreign exchange.

However, the workers of these industries are deprived of their basic rights, he alleged. He said the units making cloth and garment for the local market are virtually “forced labor camps”.

Textile and Garment General Workers Union General Secretary Abdul Basit said that more than 65percent workers of these units do not have written appointment orders.

“These workers are sacked on the sweet will of their employers. There is no concept of leave even in case of illness. The number of female workers is increasing and so are the incidents of sexual harassment,” he accused.

Home Based Women Workers Federation General Secretary Zehra Khan said the national economy is rapidity being shifted to the informal sector and as a result, workers are deprived of their legal and constitutional rights.

The worker’s demands included a mandatory weekly off, formation of a vigilance committee for harassment of female workers, provision of health and safety standards, the right of forming trade unions and wages on merit and skill. The government of Pakistan should also enforce the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP-Plus), they asserted.