Islamabad, 01 May, 2020: In her message on Labour Day, PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman honoured the hard-working labourers round the world and said, “It is because of our labourer’s hard work that the entire world’s wheels are rolling.”
“The daily wagers make up for Pakistan’s 74% labour force and work without a formal contract. They are vulnerable even in the best of times. They bear the brunt of escalating food prices, economic slowdowns and sudden health expenses. Due to the pandemic, these people have suffered the most and require immediate relief. In these difficult times, it is the government’s responsibility to come forward and support all those affected, “she added.
Senator Rehman said, “Most of the workers are not in the system and this is a challenge which needs to be resolved. Now more than ever, it is vital that all the workers should be registered with relevant institutions like social security institutions, Workers Welfare Fund and Employees Old age Benefit Institution. The minimum wages law should also be applied to the construction workers and the labour department should fix minimum wages for the skilled workers in the construction sector”.
Talking about future goals she said, “It needs to be ensured that the mechanism for enforcing the minimum wage through existing minimum wage boards is strengthened. The minimum wage should be calculated according to the living wage which should be based on a robust, internationally recognised methodology, with rural-urban price differentials being taken into due consideration. EOBI should be open to all who wish to participate in the pension fund and our female labour force participation needs to be increased too”.
“PPP has always been on the frontline when it comes to the struggle for labour rights and we will ensure that we safeguard these rights. PPP founding chairman, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had introduced a labour policy in 1972, which brought visible changes in the life of the labourers. The credit of establishing the Worker Welfare Fund in 1971 also goes to PPP. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto pledged to align all labour laws with the regulations of the International Labor Organization, and set a minimum wage. More recently in 2018, Sindh was the first province to announce provincial labour policy after 18th amendment,” she added.
Rehman said, “Sindh had announced paid leave for the entire workforce during the lockdown in the province. Orders have also been given to bar any worker from being laid off, or any salaries being deducted during the showdowns. The notifications have been issued under labour laws and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act (2014)”.
“Though the federal government has announced a relief package for industrialists, the workers are still waiting for their turn. There is a dire need for a relief package which is customized for the workers as the government’s relief package for construction is only benefiting big builders and not the workers,” she added.
Senator Rehman concluded by saying, “The government’s relief package for daily wage earners is unlikely to be enough to cover the basic needs of the millions who lost their jobs amid cutbacks and shutdowns over the coronavirus crisis. They need to come up with an action plan before it is too late. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers of the country and fight for their rights.