LAHORE - On the International Day for Labourers, Punjab government is going to give a high-sounding Labour Policy to the wretched segment of society – which is the real powerhouse of the democracy in this country owing to its mammoth voting strength.

The first Labour Policy approved by the Punjab Cabinet will meet the international standards set for security and social welfare of the working classes, according to the babus who have drafted it – a claim made in the backdrop of a dismal history of implementation of legislation ever done in this most populous province of Pakistan, like the other parts of country.

In terms of minimum wages, the policy however does not promise any significant change in the already set amount of Rs12,000 per month, that too is seldom paid to the workers in the private sector.

Sources in the official quarters say the Labour Policy will address the issues commonly raised at the international level about availabilities of necessary facilities, security during the job and after service benefits as well as employment of underage in the developing countries.

They said the Punjab Labour Policy will not only protect rights of the working class during job but also guarantee social security, health and care of family members etc. The policy aimed at improving industrial productivity and sale of Pakistani goods in the international market by meeting the global standards about the rights of the working class.

After attaining the GSP+ status, Punjab industry has bright prospects of increasing exports of textile and other goods in European markets where protection of labour in the goods manufacturing country is considered as vital point.

The Labour Policy which will be effective after passing through the legislation in the Punjab Assembly, has strictly shunned bonded and child labour. Not that but the Punjab government has earmarked Rs 5.2billion to address the issue of bonded and child labour.

However, no increase has been made in the minimum wages of Rs12,000 which was announced in budget of 2012.

The labour unions have been loudly demanding minimum wages to be set at Rs20,000 in proportionate to the increase in inflation and price hike of the items of daily use. They and the civil society organisation say that the minimum wages at Rs12,000 by any means is not sufficient to meet the bare monthly expenses of a family of four persons. As such the minimum wages can also be increased in the policy that would somewhat ease the financial burden on the working class.

Like other parts of the globe, International Labour Day will be observed across the country including the city on Friday (today) to remember the 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 organisations would arrange workshops and rallies to mark the day.

The All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, in collaboration with the Working Women Organisation, will take out a main rally from Hamdard Centre to Punjab Assembly at 9.30am.

Union leaders Sultan Khan, Aima Mahmood, Fazal Wahid and others will lead the rally which would be attended by hundreds of workers of different trade unions across the country.

The Bonded labour Liberation Front Pakistan (BLLF) would hold a rally at 10:00 am from Dyal Singh Mansion. A seminar on International Labour Day to pay tribute to Chicago martyrs and to highlight core issues of bounded labour will also be held.

The seminar titled “GSP Plus Status and Compliance of Labour Standards” will be attended by Senator Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Provincial Minister for Law Mujtiba Shuja Rehman, MNA Shaista Pervaiz, office bearers of BLLF and other dignities.

All Pakistan Workers Confederation would also take out a rally from Alhamra Arts Council Building and a large number of labourers belonging to public private sector would participate in the rally.

In a message with connection to International Labour Day, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that labourers play a key role in strengthening of economy and the targets of development cannot be achieved without prosperity and empowerment of labourers as well as giving them a respectable status in the society.

He said that International Labour Day is celebrated to pay homage to the supreme sacrifices of martyrs of Chicago and there is a need to pledge on this occasion that no effort will be spared for the welfare of labourers and protection of their genuine rights.

“Islam declares labourer as a friend of Allah and as such acknowledges his dignity,” he added.

Shahbaz Sharif said the Punjab government is taking solid measures for the welfare of labourers and workers and set up labour colonies, social security hospitals and dispensaries besides quality educational institutions for their children.

Promising a Labour Welfare Complex soon, the chief minister also announced first Labour Policy of Punjab province on the eve of Labour Day at Manga Raiwind Road adjacent to Sundar Industrial Estate.

Provincial ministers, members of provincial and national assemblies, labour union leaders, industrialists, political leaders, public representatives and a large number of industrial workers will attend the function.

Provincial Labour Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar visited the construction site of Labour Welfare Complex Sundar and reviewed the arrangements being made for the inaugural earth-breaking ceremony of the project.

MPAs Saif-ul-Malook Khokhar, Ch Gulzar Gujjar, Labour Secretary Ishrat Ali, PWWB Secretary Rizwan Sharif, DO Works and other concerned officers were also present on this occasion.

The labour minister, while expressing his satisfaction on the arrangements, said the Labour Welfare Complex comprising 2912 multistory flats at 213 acre land is a splendid gift by the chief minister for industrial workers.

Workers welfare high schools for boys and girls, community center, sports and medical facilities will also be provided in the complex worth 7.7 billion rupees which will be completed in next three years. Labourers will be given flat in this complex at ownership basis.