A special incentive package was prepared for the labourers welfare, fixing minimum wage at Rs 6,000, announced by Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis Minister Syed Khurshid Shah on the occasion of May Day at the Convention Centre here on Thursday.
The previously minimum wage was Rs 4,600, which was not even sufficient to buy two times meal. The package also contains 33 percent increase in workers pension. Khurshid Shah said that 80,000 new housing units would be constructed for the labour class, adding the Punjab government will give ownership rights to the low-paid employees living in government quarters.
Trade unions leaders of industrial units especially those privatised by the successive governments in the past demanded of the government that some workers were terminated without golden handshake as their cases were not processed properly depriving them of their rights.
After listening to the grievances of trade unions leaders, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had formed a Committee comprising Labour Minister Syed Khurshid Shah, Leader of the House in Senate Raza Rabbani and former MNA Chaudhry Manzoor Hussain. The Committee drafted the package taking into account the genuine grievances of the workers on case to case basis and submitted its recommendations to the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister after detailed review approved the package on April 30 as a gift to labourers, who had been facing hardships for such a long time. The package will also help in rehabilitating workers laid off from industrial units without proper service benefits.
Khurshid Shah said that Services Special Powers Ordinance, 2002, would also be repealed, which gives unlimited powers to the owners to hire or fire any employee without mentioning specific offence committed by him. The package also encompasses rehabilitation of workers, who were handicapped in performance of their duties and will help in modifying old-age benefit scheme.
APP ADDS: Announcing more attractive packages for labour class, the minister said that government has decided to repeal IRO-2002 Ordinance and would restore the relevant clauses of IRO-1969 to create conformity for friendly industrial relations.
"It is not just an announcement, but a reality to modify all Labour Laws according to the ratified International Labour Organisation conventions to safeguard the interests of workers," Shah said.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sherry Rehman, Senator Dr Akbar Khawaja, Secretary Labour and Manpower Malik Asif Hayat and PPP leaders Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, Manzoor Hussain, Dr Israr Ahmed, Qazi Sultan Mehmood and a large number of union leaders and workers were also present.
The government wants to eliminate discrepancies among regular and contractual workers, the minister said adding that PPP government was against "contractual employment".
The minister also announced to increase minimum pension from Rs1,500 to Rs2,000. Under Workers Welfare Fund (WWF), he said the marriage grant for workers' children, would be given now without holding any `lucky draw' to facilitating every one. Earlier the grant was given only to the winner of lucky draws. He said that workers profit funds of Rs18,400 paid previously to a worker in a year has been enhanced to Rs24,000.
Khurshid Shah said the government would set up hospitals in every city for providing medical facilities to the industrial workers. Besides, schools would also be established in those districts where large number of workers are living.
However, he said that all high schools being run under the worker welfare fund would be upgraded to the level of higher secondary schools.
The minister said that the government is also actively working to repeal the section 27/2-B under which a ban on banking unions was imposed. A special committee has already been formed in this regard, he added.
He paid rich tribute to the leadership qualities of the two former prime ministers Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Shaheed Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the first who announced to celebrate May 1 with work force, he added. "I am among one of you and as a worker of PPP and citizen of Pakistan, it is my promise that I would live and die with you," he said.
Earlier, the Minister also attended another seminar at Aabpara Community Centre and criticised the previous government for the ongoing wheat and power crisis. The Minister said that use of cell phones by a large number of people does not mean that the country was on the path of development. "We are committed to overcome these crises, but we need some time and the people have to cooperate with us," he said.