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Protest threatened against devolution of Workers Welfare Board

Protest threatened against devolution of Workers Welfare Board

PESHAWAR: The Mutahidda Labour Federation (MLF) Pakistan has threatened to observe strike and stage a sit-in in Peshawar soon after Eidul Fitr against the devolution of Workers Welfare Board (WWB).

Addressing a press conference at Peshawar Press Club on Monday, MLF provincial president Mohammad Iqbal said that WWB was devolved to provinces under 18th Amendment but the workers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan didn’t accept the decision.

“The income from our industries is about Rs300 million while the expenditures, salaries and welfare funds are over Rs6 billion which cannot be met through our provincial resources without financial support of the federal government. That’s what we are opposing the devolution,” Mr Iabal said.

Flanked by MLF provincial secretary information Faqir Hussain, general secretary Mohammad Nabi and representatives of the workers of Pakistan Tobacco Company and Sarhad Textile Mills Nowshera, Mr Iqbal said that a delegation of workers would also apprise PTI chairman Imran Khan of their problems.

“If he (Imran) also fails to pay attention to our problems, then the decision regarding strike will be final because the devolution has led to serious financial constraints and WWB has stopped funding for the education, health and other welfare schemes. As a result many of our children have to say goodbye to education,” he added.

Mr Iqbal said that in the past, WWB was supposed to pay the dues of workers’ children but now the entire process was affected and all educational institutions had stopped to teach their children owing to lack of funds.

The main sufferers, he said, were the industrial workers of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as maximum of the industrial units were closed in those provinces owing to lawlessness and power loadshedding. Thousands of employees would be rendered jobless if the decision was not withdrawn, he added.

Mr Iqbal said that workers in Sindh and Punjab had no issue as the two provinces were generating maximum of the revenue and were busy in enacting their own labour laws. He said that some of the workers in Punjab had challenged the devolution of WWB in Supreme Court. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government should become to become a party in the case and play its role for welfare of the workers, he added.

Referring to the function of working folks schools, he said that transporters had stopped to take their children and the schools looked like abandoned buildings. During the past two years, he said, facilities like provision of textbooks, dowry and death grant were not given to them and the estimated cost of different uplift schemes was also increased manifold owing to non-availability of funds.

Speaking on the occasion, Faqir Hussain said that provincial government failed to implement its decision of fixing minimum wage at Rs15,000. He said that the annual budget also did not have any good news for the workers.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2015

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