Workers demand doing away with contract system


Karachi: Workers in different cities of Pakistan on the occasion of “International Decent Work Day” demanded of the government to do away with the cruel contract system of labour and allow workers to form their unions and collective bargaining agents in all factories, industries and workplaces.

According to details, National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) on the appeal of Industrial Global Union staged demos and rallies in different industrial cities and towns of Pakistan including Karachi, Hyderabad, Multan, Faisalabad and Gadani and demanded to end the contract system of labour. They also asked to give all workers their basic right of forming labour unions and collective bargaining agents in their workplaces.

In Karachi, the NTUF staged a big rally in front of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) which was attended by a large number of workers, trade union leaders and civil society members. It was led by NTUF central president Mohammad Rafiq Baloch.

Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the NTUF said that precarious work has become the hallmark of all production sectors in Pakistan. In whole world more and more workers are being engaged in production process on temporary basis. Permanent jobs, good wages and work safety and health facilities are under attack in whole world. To get more and more profit the industrialists have launched contract labour system with full force. Workers are left to the mercy of market forces in violation of all labour laws and norms, and these market rules are set by big corporations, multinational companies and international financial institutions.

He further said that Pakistan had rectified 37 ILO conventions including nine core conventions but the state miserably failed to protect the rights of workers at minimum level. The government of Pakistan also in no mood to fulfil the promises to respect labour rights as envisaged in GSP+, an especial status which gives Pakistani products free access to European markets. He also criticized privatization policy of the government on dictates of international donor agencies and pledged that workers will resist with full force anti workers policies.

Gul Rehman, president of Workers Right Movement said in Pakistan more than 75percent of labour force is working in informal sector, where contract system and third party contracting have deprived them of their basic and legal rights. Under this system wages are meagre and the health and safety facilities just non-existent. The working hours span over 12 to 16 hours a day. A large number of labours are deprived of their social security, pension and old age benefits.

Other speakers said to cope with this grim scenario it is a must that workers should have their right of union making, which is presently only enjoyed by less than 2percent of labour force in Pakistan. This is why millions of workers are deprived of their right of collective bargaining. Despite the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the contract labour the capitalists are reluctant to end this cruel system and they also enjoy a covert support of the government in this regard. They said on the occasion of the international decent work day the labours of whole world pledge to struggle against the contract system and the precarious work.

They demanded to end the contract system of labour and issue appointment letters to all workers. They asked that for permanent nature of work, permanent employments should be given to workers. Home based and other workers of the informal sector should be included in the ambit of labour laws. The right of forming labour unions and CBAs should be ensured for all workers. Health and safety facilities should be made available for workers at their workplaces. All workers should be registered with the EOBI and social security institutions. The minimum wages should be fixed at Rs20000 per month and it should be raised proportionally with price hike. Illegal and forced retrenchment of labours should be stopped. More than 40 workers sacked from Habib Oil Mills (Karachi) should be reinstated. The demands of Gadani ship breaking labours including the betterment in working conditions should be accepted. They also demanded to put an end to privatization of public sector entities.

Those spoke included NTUF, Sindh chapter general secretary Riaz Abbasi, Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) leader Saira Feroz, Sindh Agriculture General Workers Union CBA leader Mushtaq Ali Shan and Habib Oil Mill Workers Union leader Mohammad Mushtaq.