LAHORE - Owners of hundreds of brick kilns closed down their business yesterday against, what they call, the Punjab government acted to damage their reputations in the name of action against child labour .

The Brick Kiln Owners Association announced three-day protests against the government. They said the authorities raided their brick kilns and pick the children from the workers’ houses located on kilns’ premises. They said the “unlawful acts of the authorities must be stopped in the name of actions against child labour .”

But the government said it would continue action against the child labour . Lahore DCO Capt Muhammad Usman chaired a meeting of District Vigilance Committee at Town Hall in which issues of child labour at brick kilns in capital city and bonded labour in different working places were brought under discussion.

The meeting was attended by MNA Shaista Pervaiz Malik, EDO (CD) Faiz Naem Wariach, Director (Pessi) Muhammad Siddique, DO Labour Syed Hasnnat Javed, representatives of Brick Kiln Owners Association and labour associations. DCO Lahore said that there should not be child labour on the name of poverty and no mother and father will like his or her child to remain uneducated and if one is poor one must make one’s source of income better.

He also directed brick kiln representatives to cooperate with CDGL to eliminate child labour otherwise strict action would be taken on violation as per law. He also directed EDO Education, DO Labour and Brick Kiln Owners to make ensure presence of children in schools hundred percent. DCO Lahore also gave a week to brick kiln owners for sensitizing parents, working at their kilns, in regard with sending their children to schools for education.

“The brick kiln owner will inform the district administration if child does not go to school. Seventeen persons have been arrested from 31 brick kilns up till now on violation of child labour” DCO Lahore added. The participants of meeting appreciated this new law and brick kiln owners committed with District Administration to adopt the law and cooperate with District Administration. It was also decided that Social welfare department will organize a seminar and an exhibition to promote the things manufactured by females workers and DO Labour will also inform to brick kiln owners about new law of child labour at brick kiln in regard with debt issues of workers.