Workers Plan Country Wide Protests After Eid

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Factory workers protest against layoffs and delayed salaries
Thousands of workers from different factories and industries in Lahore and Karachi have been protesting against the non-payment of salaries and forced layoffs. Workers said that their employers have not paid them their due salaries for the past 2 months or the annual bonus that they get at the end of the year.

Leaders of the labor unions complained that although the government has given relief packages for different industries, the laborers have yet to receive the relief packages announced by the government.

General Secretary of National Trade Union Federation,  Nasir Mansoor claimed that tens of thousands of workers have been laid off by their employers since the start of lockdown.

Owners of factories are not willing to fulfill any of their social responsibilities. In the last two and a half months, about two million people working in the factories or supply chain management were fired by their employers.

“They are not even paying salaries to their employees,” Mansoor said.

In March, the Sindh government issued a notification barring industries and private companies from laying off their employees due to the lockdown. But the industrialists moved to the Sindh High Court and pleaded to strike down the notification since the government has no legal powers to issue such orders.

After that, the Sindh government promulgated an Ordinance to provide job security to laborers and employees during the lockdown period. Mansoor said the legislation was a good step forward but unfortunately the ordinance is yet to be implemented to protect the rights of the laborers.

Saeed Ghani, Sindh’s Minister for Labour and Education told that he was aware of the recently passed Ordinance was being violated and that companies and industries were continuing to lay off workers and not pay their salaries.

“We are receiving lots of complaints and trying to address them. I will encourage the people to register their complaints on our helpline numbers so that we can resolve them,” Ghani said.

But labor unions are not satisfied with the government’s response. Nasir Mansoor said that if the situation does not improve and lay off continue to happen unchecked, the workers will be left with no choice but to start a resistance movement.

“I think the anger is simmering among the workers and these protests will intense after Eid holidays. The worker who earns only Rs 15000 or Rs 16000 ( minimum wage ) is facing starvation. If the family of a worker is hungry then he will not think about any consequences.”