Abbas Soz

KASUR – Heads of different district departments, the police, civil society, the representatives of district bar association, media, owners and workers sat together to deliberate the situation pertaining to the bonded labour, especially the brick kiln worker and set goals for their prosperity and welfare.

The consultation session was organized by the Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan (BLLF) in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) which was chaired by DCO Ahsan Wahid here in Kasur on Wednesday. On the occasion, BLLF Executive Member Mehar Safdar Ali threw light on the aims and objectives of the organization and apprised the participants of the successes achieved by the BLLF.

He, through, multimedia slides highlighted the problems of the brick kiln workers and their condition.

He termed the social security cover as a tool which could help solve many problems of the brick kiln workers. He said that social security cards could also serve as deterrent against the prevailing advance (pashgi) system which was the root cause of the burning issues confronted the worker. Mehar Safdar stressed the need for effective utilization of the existing infrastructure of facilities to ensure rights and welfare of the brick kiln worker.

District Officer (DO) Health Dr Muhammad Shakoor, EDO (Community Development) Shakir Iqbal, DSP City Circle Muhammad Akram, DO Labour Muhammad Naeem Chaudhry, Brick Kiln Owners Association Pakistan General Secretary Mehr Abdul Haq, local representatives, District Press Club President Khadim Ali Khokar, Union of Journalists President Sharif Sodal, Assistant to District Information Officer Muhammad Ahmed, a large number of local journalists and civil society representatives attended the session.

This consultation meeting was purposely organized for the sensitization of the key stakeholders for the action plan and elimination of the bonded labour.  In her speech, BLLF General Secretary Syeda Ghulam Fatima explained in detail the definition of the bonded labour and its worst forms. She called for a broader spectrum while analyzing the condition of bonded labour, especially the brick kiln workers to grasp their plight and devise a comprehensive strategy for their resolution. She also stressed the need for inclusion of bonded labor in social protection networks to ensure their legal entitlements.  She revealed that the BLLF got issued 988 computerized national identity cards to workers which was more than a dream because absence of CNICs had been hurdling the way to their prosperity. She reaffirmed the BLLF resolve for educating the worker to getting their rights.

On the occasion, a five members committee was constituted under the chair of the district officer labour for the provincial network for the eradication of bonded labour.  Speaking on the Occasion, District Officer Labour Naeem Chaudhry counted the facilities the department had been offering to the brick kiln workers. He said that social security cover to the brick kiln workers would open the door of welfare and prosperity on them.

He claimed that the department was utilizing all out resources to change the lot of brick kiln worker for better. The DO-L disclosed that the Labour Department had distributed education scholarships to the tune of Rs40 million among the children of the labourers in Kasur district alone, adding that all these benefits were string with the issuance of social security cards.

Advocate Ayaz Hussain informed the participants about various forms of the bonded labour and different provisions and laws for its eradication. He also reminded of the international obligations to curb the menace, saying that being signatory of different international conventions on the rights, especially of the bonded labour, the Pakistani government was bound to eradicate the scourge from the society.

In his concluding remarks, DCO Ahsan Wahid lauded the BLLF for holding the session and stressed the need for more such meetings to tackle the issue of bonded labour, especially of brick kiln workers.

He expressed his resolve to make all out efforts to help brick kiln workers get their due rights. The DCO also asked the workers to get benefitted from the different government schemes launched for their welfare.