Speakers demand electoral reforms to give workers representation in Parliament

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Workers, peasants, human rights and civil society activists have demanded to provide due representation to the working class in the parliament by effective electoral reforms.

They demanded to effectively implement the agriculture reforms to contain the hold of big landlords on resources.

The speakers were speaking at a discussion session on the key findings of the Annual Report on ‘The State of Peasants Rights in Sindh in 2022’, jointly organised by Hari Welfare Association and Sindh Abhyas Academy at SZABIST here on Wednesday.

They key speakers included National Commission for Human Rights Member (Sindh) Ms Anis Haroon, Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali, Trade Unions leaders Habibuddin Junaidi, Malik Ghulam Mehboob, Liaqat Sahi, senior researcher Dr. Nazir Mahmood, Dr. Riaz Shaikh, Zulfiqar Shah and Ishak Soomro.

Ms. Anis Haroon said that bonded labour issue is a serious issue in the country.

She pointed out that laws are made, but their implementation is very poor in Pakistan.

Women Agriculture Workers law has been made in 2018 in Sindh but its rules are not made so far.

Karamat Ali demanded that workers representatives should be in the Parliament. He said Pakistan is the only country in the world where feudalism has expanded.

Habibuddin Junaidi of People’s Labour Bureau said the Sindh government has made many pro-workers laws after 18th Amendment in the Constitution.

Akram Khaskheli, President Hari Welfare Association pointed out that the report has highlighted the peasants issues un Sindh.

The report prepared by Hari Welfare Association has demanded the Government of Sindh to withdraw its appeal against the Sindh High Court (SHC) decision on Tenancy Act and comply with all of the SHC’s directives.

The GoS needs to provide compensation to peasants and rural workers who have suffered losses in terms of their lives, livelihoods, livestock, and properties due to floods and natural calamities.

The government should pass seed laws to preserve peasants’ rights to produce, exchange, purchase, and sell their produce seeds in the market, as well as to protect the general public from genetically modified products.

The GoS should develop a special plan to implement the Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Act. The Ministry of Labour should notify the Board, open field offices around the province, and register women who work in agriculture.

The report has recommended to the GoS to establish and activate District Vigilance Committee (DVCs) in all districts of Sindh. It should make the existing DVCs operational and strengthen them by providing necessary funds and resources.

The government should guarantee that the Police file FIRs in all situations of bonded labour released on court orders, utilizing sections 11 and 12 of the SBLSAA.

Agricultural workers should be registered and issued labour and health insurance cards in accordance with the Agriculture Women Protection Act of 2020.

Sindh’s Occupational Safety and Health Act should be reviewed, with a focus on including the women workforce as beneficiaries and ensuring strict oversight.

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