World Labour Day – No light at the end of the tunnel for labourers

Abdur Razzaq

PESHAWAR: Almost 45-year-old Hanif Gul, a labourer hailing from Peshawar, is doing odd jobs in various parts of the provincial capital and is unaware of the World Labour Day as he says the day is observed across the country for those who work in well-furnished offices to enjoy holiday on 1st May.images

“It is holiday for government employees every year,” he told the Dateline Peshawar whileexplaining the May Day.

For many like Hanif Gul, the World Labour Day has no significance. When asked, whether he has attended any May Day ceremony, he said: “I have to work every day because I am the sole breadwinner of my family. If I participate in such events on this day, I will lose my wages and will differently borrow money to buy food for my family,” he says as he wipes off his sweat while working at the Rescue 1122 office being constructed in the provincial capital.

He said labourers in the city lacked a true leader, who can solve their problems, adding that the government only increased the salaries of those who were enjoying well furnished offices while condition of those working in the open during hot summers and chilly winters remains the same.

“If I do this work, I will get daily wages otherwise the contractor won’t give me wages for the day, while the government servants enjoy holiday on 1st May and take their wages (salary) as well,” he added.

Zafirullah, resident of Shakarpura, who was busy in construction work on a government building on daily wages, said he had been doing odd jobs for the last 35 years, adding that his daily wage was Rs350 per day.

He said the wage was less and it could not even meet his daily expenses because of price hike. He added that he spent some of his daily earnings in travelling and food as the contractor did not provide them food while he tries to save a little amount of money for his family.

He mentioned that he did not even know what Yaum-e-Mazdoor is, saying that no one tried to raise their voice and fight for their rights.

“Today I observed near the Peshawar Press Club that some government servants gathered and staged a protest for their rights while no-one said a single word for those who do odd jobs like me. If the government servants observe the day and raise voice for their rights, they get salary on regular basis while if a labourer working in a factory tries to raise voice for his rights, he certainly loses his job,” he lamented.

He said that in the country there was no job security in private sector while the government institutions had provided full job securities to their employees.

He demanded the government to give rights to the labourers in the private sector as well because they are also citizens of this country.

Gohar Taaj, general secretary of the Pakistan Workers Federation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the laws promulgated for labourers’ rights were not implemented properly to date and exploitation of the labourers still continues.

He said the situation now is worse as compared to 1886 as no one follows the laws made for labourers and there are no safety and health facilities for them. He demanded the government to take measures for the rights of this underprivileged class.


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