KARACHI: Government should practically accept the labors of agriculture sector as workers under the labor laws and give them all the benefits accordingly, said speakers of a consultation here on Friday evening.
The consultation on “Applying labor laws on farm workers” was held at a local hotel by Sindh Agriculture General Workers Union CBA (registered) and National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) with Hari leader and vice president of Sindh Agriculture General Workers Union CBA Khatul Faiz in chair. Representatives of labor unions from different areas of Sindh, trade union leaders and officials of Sindh labor department and International Labor Organization (ILO) attended the consultation.
NTUF central deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor said it is heartening that in Sindh the workers belonging to agriculture sector are recognized as worker. However, it is necessary to provide these workers all the rights that are being enjoyed by the other labors of Pakistan as per the labor laws. In 60 million workforce of Pakistan, the workers belonging to agricultural sector are about 60percent. In Sindh the agricultural workers are buried under the worst feudal system of dark ages. It is the responsibility of the provincial government to provide the agricultural workers due facilities of social security, collective bargaining and submitting their disputes in labor courts for their settlement. In this regard a tripartite consultation should be held to give the agricultural workers their genuine legal rights.
Labor leader Rafiq Baloch said this is big success of the workers of Sindh that our NTUF friends in fisheries and agriculture have succeeded to make their labor union. He said now this movement is spreading in whole province and it would give a new zeal to the worker movement in Sindh. Considering the peculiar conditions of Sindh, the unity of industrial and agricultural workers would emerge as a force against the parties of feudal lords and industrialists, linguistic groups and religious extremism.
Joint Labor Director Gulfam Nabi Memon congratulated the agricultural workers on formation of their own union and said with their cooperation efforts would be taken to apply labor laws on them. He said the labor department would play its role to submit the recommendation of this consultative meeting to the government of Sindh.
Sindh Agricultural General Workers Union CBA vice president and Hari leader Khatul Faiz in her presidential address said the Hari movement of Sindh is the custodian of praiseworthy revolutionary traditions and now the workers of Sindh has once again risen, carrying the banner of the movement started by Haider Bux Jatoi. She said there are 10000 members of our union and in 13 districts of Sindh its organization has already been completed at district and Taluka level including Karachi, Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan, Sanghar, Matiari, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Mithi, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas and Tando Allahyar Khan. The organization of the union is being extended also to other districts.
It is a special feature of this union that women and workers belonging to minorities groups are joining it in large number. It is the need of hour that millions of labors working in farms and fields should be granted all their rights under the labor laws including registration with the social security institutions, effectives steps of health and safety at workplace, minimum wages, grants, residential schemes, pensions and other perks. She announced that in mid April at big Hari-Mazdoor convention would be held in Hyderabad in which the representatives of haris and labors from whole Sindh would participate.
On the occasion, a seven-member working group was formed, which would float suggestion about the rights of farm workers under the labor laws and present them to the government.
Other speakers included Sindh Agricultural General Workers Union CBA president Ali Ahmed Panhwar, senior vice president Lal Bux Sathio, ILO representative in Sindh Abid Khan, labor leaders Gul Rehman, Riaz Abbasi, Habibur Rehman Junaidi, Manzoor Razi, Hameed Mian, Muqadar Zaman, Zehra Khan, Saira Feroz, Abdul Rehman, Mohammad Saleem, Mohammad Jamal and others.
Representatives of agricultural and industrial workers unanimously demanded that the government land should be distributed amongst landless Haris. Labor laws should be applied on agricultural workers. Sindh Agricultural General Workers Union CBA should be recognized as collective bargaining agent and included in all tripartite consultations. Haris should be registered with all departments related to social security. Special Hari courts should be established on the pattern on labor courts.The ownership rights of women on land should be recognized. Just distribution of irrigation water should be ensured. Corporate farming should be ended henceforth.
They demanded that the right of ownership of Sindh on all sweet waters and coasts of Sindh should be accepted and the contract system be done away with. All loans of Haris should be written off. Notice should be taken of selling of adulterated seed and pesticides. Monopoly of market mafia on setting rates of grains and agricultural produces should be ended. Prices of seed, fertilizer, and farming machinery should be reduced by giving subsidy. Free of cost electricity should be supplied to tube-wells. Hari representatives should be appointed in market committees and Kisan committees and given legal right to set up alternate markets. The representatives of Kisan committees should be given representation in the price fixing committees. Discrimination against workers belonging to minorities, especially Kolhi, Bheel and Menghwar should be ended and the forced conversion of Hindi girls be immediately stopped.