LAHORE: Labour Day in Pakistan being observed amidst serious grievances of the labourers against the new Industrial Relations Act which, they believe, has put them in a position worse that that of Chicago of 1886.
Talking about the current state of affairs of the working class especially the labourers in the country, Pakistan Working Women Organization President Rubina Jamil, Muttahida Labour Federation Chairman Muhammad Yaqoob and Pakistan Workers Federation General Secretary Khurshid Ahmed said that due to energy crises, more than 6,000 industries had been closed in the past one year alone and more than 400,000 labourers had become unemployed. They said 1.6 million labourers were entering the labour market every year and the current rate of employment was shamefully low.
They said labourers were being rendered unemployed by the factories in the name of downsizing, right sizing and golden hand shake, and all these things were happening due to fault of the present rulers and capitalists, adding that anti-labour policies were being adopted on the instigation of imperialism. They said loans from the IMF and World Bank were making the next generations indebted and on the other hand national assets were being sold at a low price.
They said that through privatization in the country, hundreds of thousands of the labourers had become unemployed and they were being ousted from the public sector/institution. In the country, prices had increased 400 times due to which 11 persons, including women, were committing suicide daily. They said under the existing laws against labourers, making of unions had become difficult and labour inspector were banned from inspecting in the factories, National Industrial Relation Commission (NIRC) had been finished and provincial government had been asked to make labour laws at the province level such as the Punjab Industrial Relation Act (PIRA).
They said the government only promised to fix maximum salary of labourers as Rs7,000 but there was no implementation on the order. In the field of agriculture, there were 80 percent labourers, including women, but they were deprived of labour laws.
(Published in “TheNews” on Sunday, May 1, 2011)