KARACHI – Acknowledging that both farmers and labourers were the backbone of any country’s economy, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah asserted on Monday that the ruling PPP, of which the farming and labour classes were the real strength, made all-out efforts for the protection of their rights in accordance with the party’s manifesto. Chairing a meeting at the Chief Minister’s House on progress and performance of the Labour Department, the chief minister remarked that “it was our prime duty to resolve the issues and problems of the workers so that they could effectively discharge their duties for the benefit of the masses. Qaim, while recalling that PPP’s founding father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had introduced the country’s first Labour policy, ordered the Labour Department to ensure health, educational and other facilities to the workers in accordance with the incumbent government’s policies. Giving briefing to the meeting, Labour Secretary Arif Ellahi averred that the department was working for the socio-economic welfare of the labour class under the labour laws. He told the meeting that the department comprised of the Sindh Workers’ Welfare Board, Directorate of Labour Sindh, Sindh Employees’ Social Security Institution, Directorate of Manpower & Training Employment Exchange, Mines, Labour Welfare Organisation, Minimum Wages Board, Labour Appellate Tribunal and the National Institute of Labour Administration Training. He also said that the funds of workers’ participation and workers’ welfare were payable by industrial units and that such contributions/collections were allocated/disbursed to the provinces through a formula i,e, Punjab 43 per cent, Sindh 42 per cent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 8 per cent and Balochistan 7 per cent.He further said that the department also undertook certain schemes for development/construction of flats and houses for workers, free of cost education to their children, grant-in-aid for their daughters; scholarships for their children, and financial aid to legal heirs of deceased workers. The meeting was told that an amount of Rs 79,565.868 million was collected from all the provinces and Centre during the periods of 2006-07 and 2010-11. “The Sindh province collected Rs 37,391.646 million which is 46 per cent, while it was allocated only Rs 9,235.481 million, which is only 11.61 per cent of the total amount. He further said that 5,444 flats and 5,813 houses were constructed and 13 schools, 11 hospitals/dispensaries and 12 vocational training centers set up under the various projects. The meeting was further informed that the ongoing schemes included construction of 3,008 flats in Karachi, 1504 in Hyderabad, 512 in Kotri, 192 Nooriabad, 96 in Larkana and 100 in Ranipur.The labour secretary also briefed that under certain new schemes placed for the approval, 1,504 flats would be constructed at Labour Colony in Kotri, a 20-bedded burns centre and a trauma centre and an OPD complex at the Pakistan Steel Mills, medical and dental colleges and a 500-bedded teaching hospital in SITE area and 1,024 flats near northern bypass in Karachi. He added that the schemes completed included construction of 128 flats in Hyderabad, 74 houses in Jacobabad, 100 houses in Nawabshah and 1,000 flats in Karachi. All these are now under occupation of labourers and workers. The department was, said the labour secretary, running two intermediate colleges in Kotri, five secondary schools in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur and a primary school in Thatta district.“Rs 720.460 million have been paid to 11,934 beneficiaries as grant-in-aid for marriages; Rs 195.211 million paid to 9,740 beneficiaries as scholarship and Rs 133.550 million as death grant.”It was informed that during the period of year 2007-2011, 381 trade unions were registered, 76 referendums were held and CBA were certified, 273 agreements, industrial disputes were settled, 1,249 factories were registered, 11,376 inspections were made, 7,985 cases were lodged in the courts, 1,990 cases were decided while an amount of Rs 31,199,169 was awarded by the commissioner (Workmen Compensation/ Authority) under the payment of the Wages Act. The chief minister meanwhile directed that 50 per cent completed flats be allocated to workers through balloting, for which a 5-member committee be constituted.