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SPARC welcomes registration of brick kiln workers.

HYDERABAD, June 10, 2010 (Balochistan Times): National Programme Manager on Bonded Labour of the Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) Kashif Bajeer has welcomed the formation of the committee for registration of brick kilns and brick kiln workers of Sindh adding that it would help eradicating the menace of bonded labour and protect the rights of the children. Kashif Bajeer who has been appointed by Sindh Government as one of the members of the committee for registration of Brick Kilns and brick kiln workers said this while talking to this scribe in connection with Child Labour Day being observed through out the world on June 12, 2010. He said that Sindh Government has formed the said committee on the directives of the Supreme Court aimed at discouraging the menace of bonded labour particularly the child labour in manufacturing units particularly carpet, shoes, bangles and brick kiln factories. The children are the architecture of the future of the nation and forcing them in labour in their childhood is an injustice with them, which must be discouraged at any forum, he said and added that the Society for Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC) has been struggling to end the child labour from the country in general and in Sindh in particular. The SPARC is one of the coalition partners of National Coalition Against Bonded Labour (NCABL) and through collaborative efforts, significant achievements have been made against bonded labour and child labour in Sindh. He called upon the government to implement the new Labour Policy 2010 in letter and spirit and initiate concrete measures to eradicate bonded labour thinking it a serious issue of the country. It is one of the demands, which were made by NCBAL in its recently held workshop, he added. He said that there is the need of making concrete commitment to implement Bonded Labour Abolition Act and National Policy and Plan of Action 2001 on Bonded Labour. Kashif Bajeer said that NCBAL also observed in the workshop that Labour Policy, announced on May 1 2010 is just catering the needs of only three to five percent registered workers while remaining 95 percent workforce is still vulnerable to the market forces without any state protection. The observations of Labour Ministry and ILO studies have proved that the practice of bonded labour is wide spread in the country particularly in the agriculture and brick kiln sectors but unfortunately no step has been outlined in the policy to address this issue. The government has accepted the existence of bonded labour and is receiving ILO assistance in this regard, but it did not pay any attention towards this issue in the new Labour Policy, he said and expressed his reservations over governments failure to implement National Policy and Plan of Action and Bonded Labour Abolition Act 1992. Kashif Bajeer was of the view that bonded labour practice is rampant and courts are freeing people but hardly any culprit has been arrested and prosecuted under a special law enacted 18 years ago. The agriculture sector which constitutes 44 percent of the total labour force in Pakistan and is widely infected with bonded labour, cases has totally been ignored in labour policy, he said and added that no step including minimum wages announced through Labour Policy apply to agricultural workers as this section of the workers remains out of the scope of the labour laws, the participants claimed. In the new Labour Policy, he said that the government has raised minimum wage of unskilled workers from Rs. 6000 to Rs. 7000 per month, but minimum wage for piece rate workers has not been revised. He called upon the government to bring the agriculture workers under the scope of Labour Law and ensure that they should enjoy the free right of association and collective bargaining. He underlined the need of functioning of Hari and Peasants Courts where the peasants can take up their cases of grievances against landlords as at present, there is hardly any legal remedy available to these workers to settle their disputes with employers. Kashif Bajeer said that brick kiln sector is another category of workers where bonded labour cases are frequently reported and this sector too has been ignored in the Labour Policy. Despite the fact that brick kiln workers are paid very low wages on piece rate; working hours are longer and working conditions are horrible, but the government has failed to announce any remedy for this section of the workers in new Labour Policy, he said.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Jun 10, 2010
Words:756
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