KASUR - The Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) Pakistan’s representatives on Tuesday warned of a massive protest across the province if the government fails to ensure issuance of computerized national identity cards (CNIC) and social security cards besides payment of minimum rate of Rs517 (per thousand bricks) to bricks-kiln workers by March 31.

The BLLF representatives made the announcement while talking to local mediamen at a press conference here.

“The government should not take this warning as a routine statement or a formal demand of the workers, as we are committed to ensuring all rights to bricks-kiln workers in collaboration with the journalists, workers’ representatives and civil society activists,” BLLF Secretary General Syeda Ghulam Fatima said while speaking to journalists in a consultative meeting held in collaboration with the Trocair International here at Kasur district headquarters.

Flanked by Mehr Safdar Ali (Programme Manager Rakhwalay Programme), Ms Sobia John (Project Coordinator) and other BLLF representatives, she alleged that bricks-kiln owners had been paying Rs300, violating the government’s notification of payment of Rs517 as minimum rate to their workers. She said that in 2005 the government had fixed payment of minimum rate of Rs517 per thousand bricks to workers, but the workers were still being paid only Rs300 by the owners even during the on-going period of the worst-ever price hike in Pakistan. Besides facing this problem relating the minimum rate, the bricks-kiln workers are also being denied their right to CNICs due to minor objections raised by the department concerned. She said that non-issuance of CNIC was further leading toward denial of social security cards and employees old age benefits, marriage grants, free medical treatment and other facilities to the workers.

She said that constitution of Pakistan bounded the state machinery to ensure provision of all legitimate rights to every citizen without any discrimination. “But the situation being faced by the bricks-kiln workers poses them as third class citizen of the country,” she lamented. She urged the government to take care of bricks-kiln workers by constituting a special taskforce to ensure their all constitutional rights.

Earlier, Mehr Safdar highlighted various activities pertaining to the uplift of workers being carried out at various bricks-kilns of the district. Meanwhile Ms Sobia John an in-depth presentation on the activities being carried out under ‘Rakhwalay’ project. District Information Officer Ms Tabinda and over 25 local journalists attended the meeting. A resolution regarding payment of minimum rate of Rs517 and giving other rights to workers was also passed unanimously by the participants during the meeting.