The industrial revolution of the 19th century promised better days for workers, but even in the 21st century their exploitation continues; although Pakistan has ratified the international labour laws of ILO. There are laws for everything, but who is to implement them? The hardworking labour class still has to suffer long working hours, unpaid overtime, meager pay, unsafe working conditions, child and bonded labour, no compensations for accidents, illness, old age or death on the job, and lack of resting area or catering facilities at meal times highlights that the working environment in Pakistan has, by large, changed little in spite of a rapidly changing world.
Until and unless agriculture sector is included in the labour laws in Pakistan the agricultural work force will have no protection, not even on paper. Labour rights in agriculture sector are neglected, while the rich agriculture sector is the main contributor to economy of the nation, the ground reality is that the labour is not paid well. Bonded labour is another serious challenge which is highly neglected despite provision of laws such as Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1992. The feudal system has become a double-edged blade; it is bleeding the nation (by not paying any taxes) and killing the poor workers (with not paying them enough). Pakistan needs land reforms to bring it back to the civilized world. As a famous saying goes “Power corrupts and complete power corrupts completely,” so have our landed gentry!
We can have millions of movements and laws but nothing will change until, the land that exerts such power, is taken away and distributed among the growers, giving the poor workers them a voice and power in the running of the country as well as in its welfare.
Karachi, April 14.