Labour Day: Gao Suno Badlo releases song ‘Mehnat Kash’Pakistan
‘Mehnat Kash’, the third song of the ‘Gao, Suno, Badlo’ musical campaign, was released today to celebrate International Labour Day.
Sung by Rizwan Anwar, ‘Mehnat Kash’ honours the under-appreciated services of the working classes hailing from all sections of the economy. The social initiative is a joint effort of platforms Mishermayl and Aawaaz.
The video opens with a farmer working in the fields while a mason digs deep in the ground. It moves on to show different workers, such as sweepers, mechanics and masons toiling day in and day out for a meagre income. However, an interesting aspect about 'Mehnat Kash' is that it doesn’t solely focus on certain professions on the lowest rung of the pay scale but also zooms in on blue-collar workers who have to face the boss' wrath in a firm.
The video highlights harassment faced by working women, domestic workers and other professionals alike.
The song penned by Shakeel Sohail addresses all workers to recognise their worth and to fight for their rights and goes on to state that demeaning attitudes and harassment by employers and owners is unacceptable:
Poori mehnat ka poora sila
Adhi ujrat adhi izzat na manzoor na manzoor
Adha naam aur adhi qeemat na manzoor na manzoor
Speaking to Dawn.com about the various angles of the song, singer/satirist Ali Aftab Saeed who is the production head for the initiative said: “There is no doubt that the labour class is the most oppressed and we need to raise our voice for them but we also need to realise that although we might look a bit dignified, blue-collar jobs are also at the end of the day like the labour class."
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"They think they control their time and lives but at the end of the day, all workers, despite their positions are answerable to the seth, the head. This is why we felt the need to add those workers as well in the video. We couldn’t cover everything but we wanted to highlight some important aspects of this day,” he added.
Referring to the ‘bee’ imagery used in the video, Ali explained that bees are known for their tireless work for the queen bee: “All bees work together assiduously for their queen who does nothing except keep an eye on them; they can even sacrifice their own lives for her protection, bearing semblance to how workers exert effort to please those above them.”
Pointing out the plight of working women, Ali lamented that women have to face twice the trouble compared to men: “Women have to put in double the effort of what men here do. They not only have to struggle for the basic working rights but also have to fight their way through sexual harassment as well as different perils set up by society."
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"We have also given room to domestic workers because although we employ them for our daily chores, we forget to treat them as equals and easily usurp their rights as well. They are exploited everywhere and are forced to stay silent because of their position in society," he added.
He also touched upon the sorry state of affairs of brick kiln workers in Pakistan: “They are the most oppressed I believe because they take loans and work endlessly to return the debt and end up working for many years at a stretch without any wage or income.”
Ali held the opinion that the economic system does come into play and becomes a determinant in these cases: “That’s how capitalism works but there are ways to go about it and workers from all sectors should come together to raise their voice; this is the actual motive behind this song.”