Bilawal seeks labour courts reformsPakistan
KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday stressed the need to reform the labour courts, which he claimed were adding to the miseries of poor labourers instead of providing them justice.
He was addressing a ceremony organised by the Sindh government to mark Labour Day.
“I ask the Sindh chief minister to take immediate and solid steps for making the performance of these courts effective and quick, in consultation with the Sindh High Court,” he said. “Unfortunately, our labour courts do not serve the purpose for which they were created...they are increasing the difficulties of poor labourers and making [the exercise of] justice almost impossible.”
He then lashed out at private businesses which, he said, were exploiting labour through the oppressive contract-labour system, and were depriving workers of the due rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan.
“We need to address this segment of the labour as well and take immediate steps to resolve this issue,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “I have asked the Sindh chief minister to call a tripartite labour conference to discuss a comprehensive labour policy in consultation with labour representatives and leaders of trade unions.”
The PPP chairperson strongly criticised the federal government for dallying on the devolution of key institutions to provinces, which could serve workers in a better and more efficient manner.
“Despite the 18th Amendment, institutions like the EOBI [Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution] and the Workers Welfare Fund are not yet fully transferred to provinces...this is suggestive of the Nawaz [PML-N] government’s anti-labour attitude,” he said.
“I say they are anti-poor. They can build an Orange Train project worth Rs200bn but no hospitals for the poor. They know how to mint money through such projects which they later invest in offshore companies... They cannot understand what poor labourers want from them.”
The PPP chairperson later distributed cheques from the Sindh government to workers who had either been injured on the job or had been exposed to hazardous material which had compromised their quality of life. Compensation cheques were also given to retired workers and widows of labourers employed in the industrial and agricultural sectors.
Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said since the introduction of the 18th Amendment, the PPP government in Sindh had introduced 13 labour-friendly laws.
“We mainly focused on the protection of the rights of home-based workers, mainly women, besides occupational safety of all workers without any distinction,” he said. “The Sindh Workers Welfare Board has also been constituted with Rs1 billion as seed money to extend support to the labourers under varied heads.”
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2017