KARACHI: Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Justice Maqbool Baqar has directed the Labour Department to activate its concerned directorates to bring an end to the discrimination meted out towards women workers in terms of their salary, regularisation, and retirement while resolving the issues of all workers in industrial units.
He issued these directives while presiding over a joint meeting of the Labour Department and a 29-member delegation of PILER led by its Executive Director Karamat Ali here at CM House.
The CM heard the issues being faced by labourers working in various industrial units and ordered the labour department to resolve them.
The most glaring issue discussed was the implementation of the minimum wage of Rs 32,000 announced by the previous government on the floor of the assembly.
To a question, Secretary Labour Shariq Ahmed told the CM that the minimum wage of Rs32,000 has yet to be approved by the Cabinet. The CM directed him to float a summary for the cabinet, get it approved by circulation, and then ensure its implementation.
The labour leaders said that some of the officers of the labour department were serious about resolving their issues but due to frequent transfers and postings, the problems remain unresolved. At this, the CM directed the Secretary of Labour to discourage unnecessary transfers/ postings.
The CM was told that female workers were being offered lower wages than male workers. When the women workers reach the age of 42 to 45, they are termed as old and terminated, or refused jobs, particularly in textile sector.
Justice Maqbool Baqar directed the labour dept to take necessary administrative measures to bring an end to such discrimination. “A senior worker, particularly a woman, proves to be an asset for industrial units if the necessary benefit is taken out of her experience,” he said.
The interim CM directed the labour department to start inspections of all the industrial units and check their record, number of workers, amount of salary being given to each and every worker, and check safety measures taken for workers working there, medical support in case of any incident and submit the report to the CM Secretariat.
Secretary Labour said that his department was facing a shortage of officers for which the department sent a requisition to the Sindh Public Service Commission last year. At this, the CM directed his Secretary Hassan Naqvi to send a note to the chairman of SPSC with a request to expedite the selection process of labour officers.
Justice Baqar also issued directives for overcoming the shortage of staff in labour courts. The Labour leaders also took up some issues of the workers working in the companies/ establishments operating in different provinces, simultaneously.
The Secretary Labour dept told the CM that such companies were not registered with the provincial government.
At this, the CM directed Labour Department to identify such establishments or groups of establishments having branches in more than one province and seek an opinion of the Law Department on the point as to how they could be brought into the registration net.
The Labour leaders complained that the number of workers registered with the SESSI was lesser than the workers registered with EOBI. Chief Minister directed that Labour Department to reconcile the workers’ data of SESSI with the EOBI and report to him.
He also told the directorates of the Labour Department to ensure the collection of data of workers from companies and home-based workers and register them.
The labour leaders pointed out the fire incident in a factory that claimed the lives of two children working there on Oct 17, 2023. The CM expressed his displeasure and asked the Labour department what it was doing when the industrial units were employing children.
He sought a report on the incident from the labour department and included compensation for the victims’ families.
Justice Baqar directed the Labour Department to prepare a well-worked-out concept paper for the welfare of the families involving their children in labour. “I want to save the children from working as servants and simultaneously keep the stove of their houses burning to feed their families,” this should be a concept, he said.
The interim CM said that the Labour dept has resources to start such schemes in which children of poor families involved in child labour may be registered for vocational training and may be given honorarium to support their families.
He directed the labour dept to form a Reforms Committee to bring about improvement in labour laws for the betterment of workers. He said that the labour Department would put up a proposal for the formation of a Reforms Committee comprising representation of workers, employers’ federation, lawyers etc along with TORs.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023