Industrial growth and boost in exports is not possible until labour laws are strictly implemented; the rulers have completely ignored the working class in their recent minibudget which shows their anti-labor mentality, said the speakers of a protest rally of labors here Sunday.
The rally was staged jointly by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Textile Garment General Workers Union (Korangi) against illegal sacking of workers and blatant violation of labor laws. It was led by trade union leader Abdul Basit.
Addressing the rally, NTUF deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor said that international garment brands have promised with the Global Framework Agreement for better wages for their labors.
He said it was agreed that these workers would be given the right of making trade unions. There would be gender equality and proper health and safety standards. She said that the current situation is that the international brands force their workers to work for more than 10 hours a day, and also compel them to work on holidays. Making trade unions in these factories is considered as terrorism and those raising voice for these workers are being harassed and illegally sacked from jobs. Only two to three percent of workers of these factories are registered with the Sindh Employees Social Security Institute and Employees Old Age Benefits Institute, which shows the widespread lawlessness and antihuman attitude of these industries.
PILER Director Karamat Ali said thousands of workers have already been sacked from financial institutions, media houses and industrial units especially textile and garment without any reason or rhyme, and this sacking is continuing.
The government and other related institutions are showing criminal negligence on these issues. The share of textile and garment sector in the national industry is more than 50percent. This sector is the backbone of national economy and provides 65percent of foreign exchange. However, the workers of these industries are deprived of their basic rights.
He said the units making cloth and garment for local market are virtually forced labor camps. Hundreds of thousands of workers making goods for the international brands depict the picture of modern slavery.
Textile and Garment General Workers Union General secretary Abdul Basit said that more than 65percent workers of these units do not have written appointment orders. These workers are sacked on the sweet will of their employers. There is no concept of leave even in case of illness.
The number of women workers is increasing and so is the incidence of their sexual harassment. These women workers are not being given equal wages.
Home Based Women Workers Federation General Secretary Zehra Khan said the national economy is rapidly being shifted to informal sector and resultantly, workers are deprived of their legal and constitutional rights. She said illegal and inhuman ‘contract & labor system’ in factories and workplaces in increasing unrest amongst the labors.
They demanded that all workers should be given written appointment letters and their wages should be paid through banks. All sorts of contract-labor system in factories and industries should be ended and those involved in this illegal practice should be punished. Action should be taken against the factories that are forcing workers to work for more than eight hours a day. The workers should be given mandatory weekly off. She further recommended that harassment of women workers should be stopped and vigilance committee should be formed in every institution, having one representative from workers. Health and safety standards should be implemented in factories and workplaces.
It was further elaborated that all workers should be given the right of making trade unions. The wages of textile and garment workers should be determined as per their skills.
All international brands working in Pakistan should respect and implement labor laws, and implement the Global Framework Agreement. Also, the government of Pakistan should implement all points of the GSP-Plus. Those spoke also included Saira Feroze of United Home Based Workers Union, Zubairur Rahman columnist, Sajjad Zahir, Ashiq Ali, Athar Ali and Owais of Textile Garment General Workers Union.