Karachi: Trade unionists and labour rights leaders have announced the decision to form a national-level textile/sectorial-based union to launch a joint struggle to improve occupational health and safety of workers, secure the right to form unions and to collective bargaining, and to abolish contract system as well as child and bonded labour.
Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday, Karamat Ali, the executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), said that the decision had been made at a meeting of textile unions from across the country held at PILER Centre earlier this week.
The formation of the body’s coordination committee was announced at the press conference. Ali heads the committee and it includes Bashir Shakir, Aslam Meraj and Niaz Khan from Punjab; Rehana Yasmeen, Zehra Khan and Nasir Mansoor from Sindh; Khan Zaman, Sultan Khan and Haji Abdul Hakeem, Rukhsana Khalid from Balochistan; Taj Mena, Sherzada, Saadat Shah and Abrarullah from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Ali said coordination committee would formalise its structure, decide a name and make its constitution within one month.
The committee has been entrusted to prepare a Charter of Demands in consultation with all stakeholders, including trade unions, representatives of employers and the government.
During the meeting where the decision to form the national level union was taken, various issues being faced by the textile sector were discussed and the following demands came out: the right to form unions and collective bargaining of all workers should be accepted without any condition; minimum wages be converted into living wages and be implemented and contract system, child labour and bonded labour be abolished.
The participants also demanded that all workers should be registered with labour welfare institutions like Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI), Social Security Institutions and Workers Welfare Fund, all laws referring to occupational health and safety be implemented and the law regarding sexual harassment at the work place be implemented in all establishments.
They also demanded the laws to work for eight hours and overtime be implemented and all those laws, which are contrary to the International Labour Organization (ILO) should be changed and the existing labour laws be made in compliance with ILO conventions.
They also urged that all 27 international conventions and covenants under the GSP Plus scheme should be implemented and all those workers who have been removed from service on charges of formation of unions be restored to their jobs. They also demanded that courts should decide labour cases within two months.
The All Pakistan Workers Federation, PILER, HomeNet Pakistan, Lahore, Balochistan Labour Federation, Mehnat Kash Labour Federation, KP, All Pakistan Labour Federation, Labour Education Foundation, Lahore, Labour Quomi Movement, Textile Garment Power Looms Workers Union, National Trade Union Federation, All Pakistan Federation of United Trade Unions, Pakistan Textile Workers Federation, National Organisation for Working Communities, Karachi, Ittefaq Mazdoor Union, Crescent Bahaman, Pindi Bhatiyan, Almansoor Power Looms Workers Union Kasu and Home-based Workers Federation, Karachi attended the meeting.