LAHORE -

Like other parts of the globe, International Labour Day will be observed across the country including the City on Wednesday (today) to memorize Chicago labourers who sacrificed their lives and to renew pledge to achieve workers  rights. On May 1, 1886, several workers were killed in Chicago while demanding eight-hour workday instead of 12-hour.

In Pakistan, seminars, workshops and walks will be arranged both at the government and private level to mark the event. Several organizations arranged workshops and rallies on Tuesday to mark the day. Bonded labour Liberation Front Pakistan (BLLF) arranged a seminar under project “support social protection and decent work for brick kiln workers” to mark the international Labour Day here at local hotel on Tuesday.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ali Qzilbash has said that it was a pity that there no implementation on laws to check bonded labour. “Not a single person has been convicted of bonded labour under laws in Pakistan. You have leadership and platform in the form of BLLF to voice for your right under laws”, he said.

General Secretary Syeda Ghulam Fatima condemned the attitude of some government institutions and their failure to provide social protection to the brick kiln workers. Although, PESSI and labour department is playing important role in resolving issues of brick kiln workers but there are things need to be done on emergency basis. She said the minimum wage is Rs. 665.80/ 1000 bricks but brick kiln owners are violating labour laws and keeping their workers underpaid. Program Manager BLLF Mahar Safdar Ali said ‘we will have to work together with the government and organizations who are working for eradication of bonded labour’.

 He said under project “Support social protection and Decent work” BLLF has achieved major results that include processing of CNIC’s, trade unions, registration of brick kilns, implementation on minimum wages.

Project Coordinator Imran Naseem said all the political parties have the same slogan of working for poor and workers but not a single party has any policy for brick kiln workers in their manifesto. There are over 4.5 million brick kiln workers but there is not a single political party talking about their rights and social protection. Brick Kiln owners are friends and relatives with members of political parties how can such parties make justice with brick kiln workers.

In his message on Labour Day, Minister for Labour Arif Ijaz said that this day reminds us of great struggle waged by the workers, throughout the world. He said Pakistani workers also express their complete solidarity with the labourers of the world. He said that Punjab government too salutes the greatness of workers on the Labour Day. He said Punjab government has taken many important steps for the welfare of the workers, which include implementation of labour laws, introducing healthy trade unionism, elimination of forced labour and establishment of hospitals and labour colonies besides ensuring minimum wage for workers and bringing positive change in the labour laws.

Arif Ijaz said Pakistani nation is proud of its workers, and hopes that the workers would continue to play their role as fundamental stakeholders in strengthening national economy, improving the society and enabling the coming generations to achieve higher moral standards.

Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari in his message on “Labour Day’ has said that the Labour Day on the first of May every year should serve to remind us of our commitment to the workers’ right to dignity, decent wages and protection from arbitrary termination.

On this day while we pay homage to the Chicago Martyrs for their fight against oppression a century ago we also renew our pledges made to the workers, peasants and wage earners that we will not abandon them in their struggle for a rightful place in society.

President said that a contended and satisfied labor force is central to the production cycle and national development. Indeed it is the driving force behind any industrial and agricultural progress. All claims of development will remain meaningless until the vulnerable working class is emancipated, empowered and rehabilitated.

Sethi

Chief Minister Najam Sethi has said that economic progress and welfare of the workers are interlinked as latter play a key role in the development and stability of the national economy. He said that no society can achieve the goal of progress and prosperity without ensuring dignity and respect for the working classes.

In his message on International Labour Day, the Chief Minister said that it was due to sacrifices of the labour leaders of Chicago that those rights were granted to the labourers as had been denied to them for centuries. He said that due to sacrifices of the martyrs of Chicago, not only self-respect of the labourers was restored but their rights regarding wage, working hours, treatment as well as other facilities were also granted.

He said the dream of setting up a healthy and prosperous society cannot be realized nor the goal of national progress and prosperity can be achieved without welfare of the laboruers. He said that Punjab government has always attached top priority to the rights of the industrial and agriculture labourers and setting up of social security hospitals, dispensaries, labour colonies and educational institutions of highest standard for the children of working classes are the proof of the labour-friendly policies of Punjab government.

Khosa

Pakistan Peoples Party General Secretary and former Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa has said that people should vote for his party if they want a prosperous and enlightened Pakistan.

Addressing Annual International Chicago Award ceremony at Aiwan-e-Iqbal on Tuesday, Khosa said that the nation was being divided and some forces wanted to push the country in darkness. He said terrorist were on rampage and they wanted to make the masses hostage. He said 100 million people of Punjab had been exploited for five years in Shahbaz Sharif’s previous era. He said in Shahbaz Sharif government, doctors, nurses and paramedics were tortured and fake FIRs were registered against them.

He said Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged because he thought that the masses were real center of power. He said the looters of national wealth were once against doing election campaign so they could get power to exploit the masses. He said that the question should be asked from Sharifs that how they made huge wealth and purchase flats in costly area of London.

Rally

National Student Federation (NSF) and Peoples Democratic Front brought out a rally from Nasir Bagh to Punjab Assembly on Tuesday.

Waving red flags and having banners inscribed with slogans in favour of labours, participates marched on TheMall and the rally culminated at Faisal Chowk. They chanted slogans against the ruling elites and bourgeoisie class. The rally was led by NSF central organizer Sabir Ali Haidar and Mushtaq Ahmed. Addressing the participates, they said, “Presently, labour class has been living in worst condition even than the 1886. Capitalists and feudal are sucking the blood of labour and the exploitation is on its peak. The labours do not have social security and are not given appointment letters by the factory owners, so they could be fired any time,” they said. They said Pakistan ruling elites don’t have any plan to make the life of labour easy. They demanded of the government to announce minimum wage equal to price of one tola gold. They also demanded free education facility for children of labours.