Labour leaders decry increasing problems of workers in Pakistan

KARACHI: Speakers at the first day of a two-day workshop on ‘Media Advocacy for Labour Rights’ on Friday expressed concern over the increasing problems of the workers and trade union movement in Pakistan and asked the workers and labour leaders to use the tool of the media to highlight their problems.The workshop organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in collaboration with Solidarity Centre Pakistan was addressed by trade union leaders Hubibuddin Junaidi and Mirza Maqsood Ahmed, Yasir Qazi of Hot FM 105, senior journalist and columnist Muqtida Mansoor, Aziz Memon from Sindh Labour Department, Zulfiqar Shah and Zeenia Shaukat. The speakers highlighted the issues of the trade unions and deplored the government’s anti-labour policies have multiplied the problems of the working class.They said the workers issues were not covered in the electronic as well as print media. Radio, the main source of the information and entertainment is providing less coverage to the labour issue. In fact in the West there are separate radio stations for labour, but no such dedicated radio channel exists in Pakistan. Similar is the situation in print media, where the news and features about labour issued do not find adequate space.They said after the privatisation in Pakistan the trade union movement has received a set back as now the new management of the privatised companies was providing employment on contract basis and employees have lost their right for collective bargaining. Only two to three percent of the total workforce of is organised in the trade unions.During the workshop, the participants noted down the issues of the workers at the work place in different sectors. They listed the problems with the management of the industries and with the government departments. They discussed the problems of informal sectors’ workers and peasants and shared cropper workers in agriculture sector.

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