LAHORE – Absence of an effective policy framework and lack of implementation on the relevant laws are the main hurdles in the way of eliminating worst form of labour in Pakistan. The same can be removed if both the civil society and the government join hands for getting workers out of clutches of exploiters.

It was the essence of a conference titled “Together We Can End Bonded Labour in Pakistan” organised by the Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) in collaboration with the European Union and Actionaid Pakistan at a local hotel on Friday.

Addressing the participants, Advisor to Chief Minister Zakia Shahnawaz emphasised the need of sending all kiln workers’ children to schools. “If the workers’ children will go school, the bonded labour will ultimately be eliminated,” she said, adding that the Punjab government had established schools at various selected brick kilns of the province in order to impart training to the workers’ children.

She said the workers would have to continue their struggle for the rights. “Even a mother doesn’t feed her child unless he/she doesn’t cry for this,” she said, adding that similarly the workers would have to cry for their rights to keep the government realized about it.

District Coordination Officer Noorul Amin Mengal said the City District Government was paying special attention toward eliminating bonded labour at various brick kilns of the Lahore district. He said he would personally visit the brick kilns in near future and arrest those kiln owners flouting the government orders about elimination of bonded labour.

On the workers’ leaders demand, he directed the officials concerned to immediately start finding space in Jia Bagga cluster of brick kilns for the burial of the deceased Christian kiln workers. All Pakistan Labour Federation President from Quetta Sultan Muhammad Khan sought expansion in the ongoing efforts and activities to eliminate bonded labour up to all provinces, especially the Balochistan province.

“There are a lot of coal mines’ workers who are being deprived of their basic rights. The situation is very pathetic there and we need to take up this very seriously,” he warned. He said the deteriorating law and orders situation has forced the Pakistani businessmen to stop making any sort of investment in Balochistan, as whoever established a factory or mill there was either being kidnapped for ransom or killed by the terrorists.

BLLF Secretary General Syeda Ghulam Fatima said though the government, at its end, was trying hard to streamline the labour oriented issues, it believed that there was a dire need of the hour to mobilize the civil society at large in getting rid of the bonded labour in the country. She urged the government departments concerned to continue their support for the cause the kiln workers were fighting for this.  Mahar Safdar Ali urged the participants to continue their struggle in keeping the people aware about labour issues. Qaisar Khan appealed the departments concerned to start issuing social security cards to kiln workers.

DCO visits Food Street: District Coordination Officer Noor ul Amin Mengal on Friday paid a visit to the Food Street and directed administration to make all out standing arrangements for the promotion of Lahore culture and heritage at Food Street so that could  present a look of old Lahore.  He was accompanied by ADC (R), Nadir Chatta Officials of CDGL and Food Street. Noorul Amin Mengal directed Secretary Food Street Col (r) Altaf to make proper security arrangements and to install same colour chairs in Food Street and to arrange cultural music at Food Street. He also held discussion with the visitors.

Moreover, while chairing a meeting in this regard at Town Hall, the DCO directed the Food Street administration to install security cameras with latest equipments having storage capacity of one month recording and to install lights in Street immediately.  He also directed EDO (W&S) and TMO Ravi Town to coordinate with Secretary Food Street regarding development work of the street.