LAHORE - Like around the world, labour rights champions observed Labour Day, also known as May Day, across the country on Wednesday.

Labour unions arranged seminars and rallies while the print media published special editions and electronic media played special programmes to pay tribute to workers and raise the demand for ensure labour rights

In Lahore, the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation took out a rally from Hamdard Hall to Punjab Assembly.

The marchers were holding banners and placard inscribe with slogans demanding implementation of laws to protect workers’ rights.

Similarly, Railways Workers’ Union, Hamdard Union, PHA Workers Union, LDA Union, Pakistan Uniliver, Royal Leader, M Hafeez Industry, Model Town Society Union, Coca Cola and Pepsi Workers Union marked the day.

Union leaders including Sultan Khan, Aima Mahmood, Fazl Wahid, Munir Dogar, Nasir Mahmood, Salma Liaqat and other noted labour rights champions led the events.

73% of labour in country is working in informal sector

The demonstrators reiterated their resolve to continue with the struggle. Participants were holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans, condemning inflation, poverty and unemployment and government lip-service over implementation of labour laws.

APTUF General Secretary Aima Mahmood said the labour class has been exploited for long because government back industrialists.

“Seventy-three percent of labour in Pakistan is working in informal sector so we demand social and legal protection for them and amendment to Factory Act 1934,” she stressed.

She stressed the need for participation of women in labour rights movement.

Commenting on ongoing negotiations for IMF package, Aima said, government should avoid taking dictations from international agencies to run the economy instead it should consider the interest of poor and middle class and workers.

 “Every worker should be provided social security and workers welfare fund and government should announce Rs25,000 minimum wage for labourer”, Sultan Khan.

All Pakistan Workers Confederation took out a rally from Egerton Road to Lahore Press Club.  Rights champions Khurshid Ahmad, Rubeena Jamil and representative Human Rights Commission of Pakistan IA Rehman and other trade union leaders participated. The rally passed a resolution condemning the price hike and demanded the government provide relief to working class.

Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan ralled from The Mall to Lahore Press Club. Dozens of brick kiln workers participated in rally.

The speakers said: “Even in Pakistan, the life of labourers is miserable.

They raised a demand for share of workers in Naya Pakistan Housing Programme and Sehat Card.

Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaaz and Awami Rickshaw Union also led rallies infront of Lahore Press Club. Headmasters Associations Punjab also paid tribute to labourers for their contribution to national progresss.

In his message on the World Labour Day, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said that Islam teaches welfare of labourers. “Islam has highlighted dignity of the labourers by terming them friends of the Allah Almighty. It has directed to pay remuneration of labourers immediately,” he said.

In his message, the chief minister said that labourers had rendered unforgettable sacrifices in Chicago on May 1, 1886 and this day reminds the world of the Martyrs of Chicago and their struggle against tyranny and oppression. In the new Pakistan, he said, labourers would get their rights because the country belongs to them and labourers will live an honourable life.

He said that trained human resource was backbone of trade and industry and the government is taking steps for welfare of the labourers.

Regrettably, he said, labourers were befooled by false promises and no practical measures were taken for their rehabilitation. However, he said, the incumbent government was improving the labour class’s quality of life through practical steps because provision of more and more facilities to labour was government’s mission.

He said that purpose of celebrating this day is to expedite the efforts to ensure dignity of labourers along with provision of reasonable wages.