(Published in Daily English dailytimes on November 12, 2010By Hussain Kashif)
Labour Leaders Warn govt of countrywide labour movement if anti-labour laws not repealed
In Lahore all prominent labour organisations, along with media-related unions, on Tuesday jointly protested against anti-labour articles of the 18th Amendment and urged Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo moto action and provide relief to the working class of the country.
The organisations, under the umbrella of the joint Labour Coordination Committee (LCC), held a seminar on ‘Impact of 18th Amendment on Labour Rights’ at the Nisar Usmani Auditorium and later, held a rally in front of the Lahore Press Club.
The organisations which are part of the committee are: the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ), Pakistan Worker Confederation (PWC), Muttahida Labour Federation (MLF), Progressive Workers Federation (PWF), All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF), National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI), People’s Trade Union Workers Federation (PTUWF), Women Workers Union (WWU), Working Women Organisation (WWO) and Sustainable Participatory Organisation (SPO).
Presiding over the seminar, PFUJ representative Nasir Naqvi urged CJ Chaudhry to take suo moto action and issue orders to the government to remove all anti-labour articles of the 18th Amendment when the government tables the next amendment in the constitution.
He demanded the CJ give direction to the subordinate lower courts to make decisions on the appeals of the labourers without any further delay. He also urged the government to call a ‘three-party conference’ in which, representatives of the government, employers and the labourers participate to review the issue in detail.
Muhammad Yaqub of the PWC and Hanif Ramay of the MLF, while addressing the seminar warned the government of launching “a countrywide labour movement against it if the anti-labour laws were not removed from the constitution, because no democratic government has the right to snatch basic rights of the workers”.
Khalid Bhatti, and Fazal Abbas Shah of the PWF said that the National Industrial Relations Commission (NIRC) would be eliminated after the current fiscal year as per the decision made in the 18th Amendment. He demanded that the government avoid destroying the “last hope of the labourer for getting justice against his employer”.
Yousuf Baloch of the PTUWF and Fazal-e-Wahid of the APTUF, told the gathering that due to the ignorance of the Punjab government, no minister or the labour-inspector or any other official could inspect any industry from inside, as they had no right to inspect the area following the ban on inspections in factories and other industrial units. They demanded the provincial government lift the ban on labour-inspections for the betterment of the working class in the province.
Shaheena Kausar of the WWU and Aima Mehmood of the WWO, while representing formal and in-formal working women demanded social protection for the informal woman labourers, as they had equal rights to the men because “a labourer is a labourer without any gender discrimination”.
Zafar Ejaz Malik and Salman Abid of the SPO raised the issues of inflation and shortage of food items and demanded the government provide all basic needs of the people at their door steps at affordable prices. Amir Suhail, Waseem Farooq, Zulfiqar Sarmadi, Abdullah Malik, Altaf Baloch, Shaukat Chaudhry, Muhammad Akbar and other leaders of different trade unions also spoke on the occasion.
A large number of people, including more than a dozen workingwomen also participated in the seminar and the rally. The protesters were carrying banners in favour of their demands to remove all anti-labour articles of the 18th Amendment.