ISLAMABAD -  Former president Asif Ali Zardari has called for urgently releasing the salaries of employees of the Workers’ Welfare Board (WWB) of KP blocked since long as well as regularisation of their services warning of “waging a tough political and legal battle” in support of the workers demands.

“During my visit to Peshawar and separate meetings with employees of the WWB and the clerks I was appalled to witness firsthand the plight of workers in the province,” he said in a statement Saturday.

Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that on conclusion of Zardari’s five-day visit to Peshawar Sher Azam Wazir, former provincial labour minister was summoned to Islamabad to discuss labour issues and legal and political measures for addressing them.

The former labour minister gave a detailed briefing on the processes initiated by the previous government for the workers welfare and its reversal by the PTI government, he said.

The first PPP government had set up workers’ welfare boards in every province for providing subsidised education, health and residential facilities to the children of factory workers and daily wage earners at federal expense.

As many as 48 educational institutes in various districts are not operational and its employees sacked and their salaries stopped as neither the federal government provided funds after devolution nor the proponents of so called “Naya Pakistan” have realised their responsibilities towards the children of working classes, the former president was informed. The previous government had in February 2011 ordered the regularisation of the employees of the WWB.

However, instead of regularising the provincial government stopped their salaries.

For the past six years the workers have been running from pillar-to-post and held demonstrations including outside  Imran Khan’s Bani Gala residence but to no avail.

Labour and workers issues are human rights issues and of concern to the whole nation and particularly to the PPP, the former president said.

The spokesperson quoted the former president as saying: “The party will not remain silent over the humiliation and further dispossession of the workers. Robbing the poor to enrich the privileged may be the “change” envisaged by the self styled champions of “Naya Pakistan”. The PPP indeed will not, allow it. Let there be no doubt or mistake about it”.

A small fraction of the tens of billions on building show case projects is enough to reopen the moribund educational institutions for the children of workers, he said.

But the federal government will not do it because it offers little by way of kickbacks and commission. The former president directed that a senior party lawyer be engaged to fight pro bono the workers case for service regularisation and release of salaries.

Zardari also asked the party MPs to join the protest demonstration of the KP clerks outside the Parliament House on May 25 against non-implementation of the 2010 decision regarding their pays and pensions, Farhatullah Babar said.