LAHORE - Like other parts of the globe, International Labour Day was observed across the country on Wednesday to renew pledge for protecting rights of workers.
Different political and labour organisations‚ particularly the labour wings of political parties and professional bodies organized seminars, rallies and walks to pay tribute to labourers who sacrificed their lives in Chicago for their 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 were arranged both at the government and private level to mark the event.
Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan (BLLF) arranged a seminar at Al-Hamra to mark the day. Addressing the participants, Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Iqbal said that the PML-N government launched projects for the welfare and betterment of brick kiln workers. He said that workers would be given social security cards and other due rights if the PML-N comes into power again. He distributed 11 social security cards among brick kiln workers.
BLLF General Secretary Syeda Ghulam Fatima condemned the attitude of some brick kiln owners and behavior of police towards workers. Brick kiln workers should unite themselves for the bigger cause of getting due rights, she said. She said that minimum wage was Rs. 665.80/ 1000 bricks but owners were violating labour laws and keeping their workers underpaid.
Dr Yasmin Rashid said that problems of brick kiln workers were complex and unknown to most of the politicians. She vowed to fight for rights of workers no matter PTI comes into power or not. She further said PTI’s priorities were provision of health, education facilities to every Pakistani and improvement of law and order. She said brick kiln children would get free and quality education just like any other Pakistani.
IR Rehman congratulated brick kiln workers and BLLF for progressing towards achieving set goal. He said it was a long journey but achievable target if all the workers and organizations working for brick kiln workers stay united and focused. He said Bonded Labour Abolition Act 1992 has been made through but the law has never been implemented in its real sense.
Director South Asia Partnership Tahseen said ‘we have gone through hard time, but now the time is near when children of brick kiln workers will be getting free education’. Workers are struggling since independence but the good news is that now workers have organizations like BLLF, he said
Programs Manager Mahar Safdar Ali stressed upon close liaison between workers organizations and the government to abolish bonded labour. He said under leadership of BLLF brick kiln workers have achieved major targets that include processing of CNIC’s, trade unions, registration of brick kilns and implementation on minimum wages.
Brick kiln workers Ghulam Serwar, M Iqbal and Sardara Begum also addressed the participants.
The National Student Federation (NSF) and Peoples Democratic Front held a rally from Nasir Bagh to Punjab Assembly on Wednesday to mark the Day.
Waving red flags and having banners inscribed with slogans in favour of labours, participates marched on The Mall 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.