PESHAWAR - In order to facilitate and safeguard rights of the labour class in tribal areas, the federal govt is planning to establish ‘FATA Workers Welfare Board’ by extending the Workers Welfare Fund Ordinance 1971 to tribal belt, official sources told TheNation on Tuesday.

To have the FATA Workers Welfare Board, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Shaukatullah has formally proposed President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, to extend the Workers Welfare Fund Ordinance, 1971 to FATA under the article 247 of the Constitution of Pakistan and has advised the respective authorities to initiate measures to make this possible, they added.

In all the four provinces, the Workers Welfare Boards have already been established under the Workers Welfare Fund Ordinance 1971 with a purpose to safeguard the legal rights of workers, carrying out mining and industrial activities in those provinces, they said.

“But unfortunately, FATA does not have such an organization to patronize its workers and cater for their social uplift and welfare. Thus, establishment of Workers Welfare Board in FATA is essential to facilitate the labour class in tribal areas effectively,” the official explained.

Currently, more than 30,000 labourers are working in mining and mineral industries in FATA. These workers play a vital role in the socio-economic development of FATA and KPK, they said. In tribal areas, marble and coal are major sectors.

As compared to the incentives and benefits being provided by the Workers Welfare Board in other provinces to labour class, the labourers in FATA feel insure for having no such incentives and facilities such as workers welfare fund, residential accommodation, death grants, medical care, marriage grants, scholarships to their children, Haj and other facilities. To establish the organization for FATA on the pattern of KPK would require Rs.2b, sources said adding that Governor KPK has directed concerned departments to move a summery in this respect to President Zardari.  The sources said that before establishing Workers Welfare Board for FATA, registration of industrial units would be made and exact number of workers would also be ascertained.

Moreover, parliamentarians from tribal areas, ministry of State and Frontier Regions, law and justice division would also be directed to offer their opinion within a month, which would be followed by a summary to be moved to President Asif Ali Zardari for approval, the sources concluded.