A large number of workers staged a protest demo in front of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) here Saturday and warned to besiege the offices and homes of their employers if their pending wages are not paid immediately.
According to details, a large number of workers gathered before the Karachi Press Club to attend a demo organized jointly by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF).
Wearing face masks and hand gloves they stood keeping proper social distancing to each other and raised slogans in favor of their demands. The demo was led by NTUF Sindh President Rafique Baloch and HBWWF general secretary Zehra Khan.
Representatives of different labor unions were also present. Speaking on the occasion, NTUF general secretary Nasir Mansoor said that the federal government has miserably failed to give a proper strategy to save people from the coronavirus.
It is getting people confused and frightened which may create serious consequences. He said masses are not being provided basic necessities of life. More than 20 Crore people are left to the mercy of this viral disease.
He said though the announcements by the government of Sindh are praiseworthy but these announcements are not being implemented.
Other provincial governments, on the pattern of the federal government, have so far adopted an ostrich approach towards this serious issue.
He said the rulers have left the poor people to the mercy of the coronavirus and to die from the disease or hunger. A large number of workers are yet to get any benefit from the government relief.
He asked to file criminal cases against the rulers for deaths of poor people from hunger and disease. He said like the puppet rulers of Pakistan, the owners of factories are tormenting workers.
Despite government orders they are not willing to pay wages to their workers and instead they are forcibly sacking them. Some of the factory owners have closed down their mills, and some others are forcing labors to work in unsafe environment.
He said the related government departments, especially the labor department, have not been discharging their responsibilities and they have failed to mitigate the sufferings of these workers.
Mansoor said that due to lockdown a large number of daily-wagers have become jobless and millions of other workers are facing great agony due to non-payment of their wages. Their families are facing serious food shortage but the rulers are issuing them sermons of ‘not to become afraid’.
He said the government has failed to supply ration to the poor families.
He added that, the whole healthcare infrastructure in Pakistan has proved to be big failure and not only testing kits and personal protective equipment, but even masks and gloves are also not being given to doctors and healthcare workers. He said lack of the basic healthcare facilities in an atomic power is a shame.
He stated that the situation demands to give focus and funds to basic social sectors of education and healthcare. He said less than 2percent of GDP is tagged for healthcare.
However, healthcare workers are putting their lives in risk by working in unsafe conditions. He said the government by ignoring the healthcare system in this crucial time is committing a big mistake.
HBWWF general secretary Zehra Khan said that when the working class needs an urgent relief, the government is providing relief only to industrialists and tycoons.
She said that the State Bank of Pakistan has announced to give loans on easy terms and reduced interest rate to pay salaries of workers, but the capitalists on one hand are getting facilities from the government and on the other hand rendering their labors jobless and also refusing to pay their wages.
She said the international lending institutions instead of waiving off the loans of poor nations are only talking about deferring these loans for short periods. She said instead of saving poor people from the virus, these institutions are giving more loans to governments to facilitate capitalists and industrialists, which would result in dire consequences for the working class in future.
Khan said the multinational companies and international brands of textile and garment sector have failed to discharge their due responsibilities. She added that, due to the worsening global economic crisis, orders are being cancelled of many countries including Pakistan, creating a threat of unemployment of 2 million workers related to the sectors of textiles and garments.
She said it needs forging unity amongst the workers to face these grave challenges. The demo participants demanded that during the lockdown period wages of workers should be paid promptly and their sacking should be stopped.
The industrialists and factory owners who are not following the government orders should be arrested and heavy fines recovered from them,she added.
Moreover she stated, The state of Pakistan should announce default of the foreign loans and this money should be spent on the welfare for poor people of Pakistan. All non-developmental expenses including defense expenses should be curtailed by 50percent and the saved funds should be spent on healthcare.
Whereas she asked that, All citizens should be given universal social security cover. The government should chalk out a strategy to give ration of three months or equivalent money during this pandemic to all workers, The international brands that have earned billions from this country should stop cancelling their orders and establish funds for emergency relief of workers in different countries.
All education and healthcare institutions should be nationalized and 5percent of GDP should be tagged for healthcare,Trade unions and their representatives should be given proper representation in federal and provincial relief committees so that relief goods could be distributed amongst the needy families transparently, she said
Participants of the demo were Gul Raham, Abdul Rahman, Saira Feroz, Bakht Zameen, Fahim Sabir, Aqib Hussain, Shabnam Azam, Sajjad Zaheer, Saeeda Khatoon, Abdul Basit, M. Babar, Nisha Rao Advocte, Faisal Shah, Khalid Zardagan, Khizer Qazi, Sharif Baloch, M. Shoabi, Amir Iqbal, Mujtaba including others.