Pakistani media is often criticised for being biased and supportive to certain class which is not true. Not all media is prejudiced and some are doing exceptional work by exposing evil faces in our society. Recently a video showing a factory owner slapping and torturing his labours including female workers is seeking the attention of viewers. This makes one think about the plight of this class in Pakistan, which is truly the work force behind our all infrastructure and economy but they, themselves are most distressed in terms of finances. This is not the first time that such kind of news is making headlines but it is for us to think and take a stand for this neglected class who despite their constraints are working hard to access basic necessities of life instead of choosing the wrong path.

To acknowledge the efforts of labours, 1st May of every year is marked as International Labour Day. International Workers’ Day began in Chicago as a protest campaign in support of the eight-hour workday. On May 1, 1886, workers took to the streets across the United States in a major struggle to reduce the worldwide 12-hour workday to today’s eight-hours. This is said to be the first May Day ever celebrated. However, International Workers’ Day came about after the Haymarket affair, organised to protest harassment and persecution against workers. Traditionally, Labour Day stems from the efforts of the labour union movements to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers.

United Nations Organisation has one of its institution solely dedicated to recognise and suggest way forward for the labours around the world. Identified as International Labour Organisation or ILO, this UN agency is dealing with labour problems, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all. In 1969, the organisation received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving peace among classes, pursuing decent work and justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to other developing nations for their workers. The ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international rules, however, it does not impose sanctions on governments. Apart from many philanthropists and non-governmental organisations which are working in Pakistan in their respective area of expertise and domain, ILO started working in 1970 in Pakistan with promotion of International Labour Standards, prevention and elimination of child and bonded labour, job creation through employable skills, mainstreaming gender equality, strengthening labour market governance, employment and livelihoods recovery in response to conflicts and crises, expansion of social security schemes and social safety nets, especially in the informal economy and the promotion of social dialogue.

Today if we look back and monitor the conditions of labour in Pakistan, it is quite evident that despite many reforms and efforts to upgrade their standard, many are still facing ordeals. In fact they are the most neglected segment of the society by many of the governments. In Pakistan’s constitution, Article 11 of the Constitution prohibits all forms of slavery, forced labour and child labour while Article 37(e) makes provision for securing just and humane conditions of work, ensuring that children and women are not employed in vocations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment. Thanks to the government, for finally making efforts to have census and knowhow about statistics of population. According to old statistics of the Pakistani populace, the ratio between men and women are equal with a youth majority, among which almost 90 million people are of working age according to mentioned age by law. The total labour class comprising of children, women and older age people makes about 70 per cent of Pakistan`s population. Unfortunately, these masses are exploited by being illiterate, unemployed, and poor. In Pakistan, we witness that often this class goes through the trauma of abuse of human rights, child labour, exploitation at work places and those who try to seek justice for them in terms of fair wages and other requirements they are punished by their masters for raising their voices. Many of them are unaware of their legal rights and labour laws which provide them security.

It’s not the dilemma of Pakistan alone where workers are suffering. Worldwide, THE divide between rich and poor and the economic gap has generated such issues. Not only in Pakistan do we see children at brick kilns or begging in the street, but around the globe such disparities are witnessed. But we are concerned for our country in which we can bring change by taking steps that can change into giant leaps. Begin this change from your home and spread its diameter.

Every government boasts in their campaigns about the rights of common people in general and labours in particular but very few are fulfilled. Let’s not keep this Labour Day customary and dependent on governments and media advertisements but think about bringing a positive change in our attitude by acknowledging the work of our domestic workers who are a helping hand for us in our homes, as well as the ones who are working out of their homes for a better livelihood. We cannot change the destiny of any person in a day but can help them in making their dreams true. Nonetheless going through statistics and reports on the plight of labourers does not present a happy picture, but we can do a lot for raising their demands on different forums and ensuring impartiality. Chalking out the components which are fundamental for labour force rights and struggles will be a facilitating move in society.

To bring improvement in the living conditions and progress of working class we need to adopt labour laws, and obviously implementation is the key factor through which we can bring about a friendly environment, respect and acknowledgment of their work. As in the words of Martin Luther King Jr;

“All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”