By Asim Hussain
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman on Thursday said that the hard-working labourers round the world are honour of respective countries as it is because of them that the entire worldâ€™s wheels are rolling.â€
In her message on Labour Day, she said, â€œThe daily wagers make up for Pakistanâ€™s 74% labour force and work without a formal contract. They are vulnerable even in the best of times. They bear the brunt of escalating food prices, economic slowdowns and sudden health expenses. Due to the pandemic, these people have suffered the most and require immediate relief. In these difficult times, it is the governmentâ€™s responsibility to come forward and support all those affected.â€
â€œMost of the workers are not in the system and this is a challenge which needs to be resolved. Now more than ever, it is vital that all the workers should be registered with relevant institutions like social security institutions, Workers Welfare Fund and Employees Old age Benefit Institution. The minimum wages law should also be applied to the construction workers and the labour department should fix minimum wages for the skilled workers in the construction sector,â€ she added.
The PPP Parliamentary Leader in Senate while talking about future goals said, â€œIt needs to be ensured that the mechanism for enforcing the minimum wage through existing minimum wage boards is strengthened. The minimum wage should be calculated according to the living wage which should be based on a robust, internationally recognized methodology, with rural-urban price differentials being taken into due consideration. EOBI should be open to all who wish to participate in the pension fund and our female labour force participation needs to be increased too.â€
â€œPPP has always been on the frontline when it comes to the struggle for labour rights and we will ensure that we safeguard these rights. PPP founding chairman, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had introduced a labour policy in 1972, which brought visible changes in the life of the labourers. The credit of establishing the Worker Welfare Fund in 1971 also goes to PPP. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto pledged to align all labour laws with the regulations of the International Labor Organization, and set a minimum wage. More recently in 2018, Sindh was the first province to announce provincial labour policy after 18th amendment,â€ she added.
Sherry Rehman concluded by saying, â€œThe governmentâ€™s relief package for daily wage earners is unlikely to be enough to cover the basic needs of the millions who lost their jobs amid cutbacks and shutdowns over the coronavirus crisis. They need to come up with an action plan before it is too late. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers of the country and fight for their rights.