Free virus testing for workers demanded

May 02, 2020

PESHAWAR: The rights activists on Friday demanded of the government to start free mass coronavirus testing, especially for workers and farmers, besides ensuring their social protection.

The demand was made during a webinar organised by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek and NGO Roots for Equity here to mark the Labour Day.

The panelists included labour and peasant leaders and rights activists from different cities, including Dr Azra Talat Sayeed, Tariq Mehmood, Raja Mujeeb, Junaid Awan, Zahoor Joya and Wali Haider.

They said the Covid-19 pandemic had not only exposed the ineffectiveness of the capitalist system to deal with a crisis but also its ‘criminal tendency’ to disregard hunger and impoverishment suffered by the people at the current critical juncture prioritising profits over people.

They added that in the face of the pandemic, deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation policies were the structural reasons for the workers facing joblessness, financial instability and lack of health and other forms of social protection.

The panelists said that in the pre-neoliberal era, workers were given job protection, healthcare, education, shelter and other facilities.

They said under privatisation, even the right to permanent job security had been eroded and that was the basic reason for joblessness, poverty and hunger in the country, which had aggravated under the pandemic.

The panelists said during the Covid-19 crisis, factories and businesses had been closed leaving workers with acute economic hardship.

They said according to the provincial planning and development department, if the lockdown continued than 460,000 workers, including daily wagers and street vendors, would be left without a livelihood.

The panelists said in the Hattar Industrial zone, many hundreds of workers had already been laid off.

They claimed that the relief package provided by the federal and provincial governments was inaccessible for a majority of workers due to lack of registration and other handicaps.

The panelists said women faced increased domestic violence under the pandemic as well as economic hardship and hunger.

They said self-sufficiency and self reliance including food-self sufficiency was a critical element for national stability and development and that was only possible when workers had full access and control over resources and production to pave the way for a peaceful prosperous sovereign nation without the shackles of imperialism.

The panelists demanded of the government to guarantee incomes and benefits, cash grants and relief or the working people and nationalise public health system, respect democratic and human rights.

They said sanctions against Iran, Palestine and several other countries should be lifted.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2020

Peoples’ Voice at UNEA-4

Statement of the Farmers Major Group at the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly

Delivered by Mr. Wali Haider


Thank you chair.

Honorable excellences, distinguished delegates and colleagues:

I am Wali Haider from Roots for Equity, Pakistan and I’m speaking on behalf of the Farmers Major Group.

The dominant paradigm of unsustainable consumption and production continue to devastate and worsen the situation of the environment and the people along with promotion of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights which force GMOs and commodification of seeds and water. This crisis is further compounded by unabted land grabs by the transnational corporations. This is manifest in the crises in food, climate, environmental degradation, reduced biodiversity, depleted natural resources, and increasing violation of people’s rights and exacerbating inequality.

The industrial model of agricultural production and perverse subsidies in the agricultural sector are destroying the sources of livelihoods of small-scale food producers and their communities, resulting in hunger and forced migration.

To tackle the challenges we are facing in nourishing a growing global population and ensuring food sovereignty require innovations. People-centred and community solutions are innovations and appropriate technologies that protect the environment, promote sustainability, community ownership, social solidarity and mutuality and based on development justice. Innovative solutions that make a difference in people’s lives are often not technological but social innovations, linked with traditional practices and based on indigenous and local knowledge systems. Dimensions of environment, economy and society, the three pillars of sustainable development, are all taken into account in people’s solutions and community innovations towards sustainable consumption and production.

It is proven that in food production, agroecology as a practice based on constant innovation of farmers, a science and a social movement, is known to improve soils, protect health and the environment, improve livelihoods, and increase household income. Agroecology also harnesses traditional and indigenous knowledge systems supported by people’s science and builds community unity. Continue reading


Mohammad Hussain Khan Updated October 01, 2018

The hari-landlord relationship remains undocumented in Sindh. This makes peasants vulnerable to all forms of exploitation.

Weaker laws and regulatory framework deprive haris of legal protection. In many cases, they survive in subhuman conditions and fall prey to slavery.

Sindh Tenancy Act (STA) 1950 seeks to protect their rights, thanks to a relentless struggle by one of the greatest hari leaders of his era, Hyder Bux Jatoi. However, haris can hardly invoke its provisions to get their rights.

Yet this law, which describes a hari as a tenant, was amended by the Sindh Assembly in 2013. The most damaging amendment that the PPP, which derives its electoral strength from rural Sindh, introduced to it was the omission of the following words: “But the landlord shall not take any free labour from the tenant or a member of his family against his will.”

In other words, legislators have legalised slavery.

According to veteran labour rights activist Karamat Ali, this amendment shows that legislators are in a state of denial as they believe landowners don’t take begaar (free labour). “Legislators from urban areas also voted for the amendment,” he said.

Landowners maintain accounts of expenditures that they settle with haris after the harvest. Haris till the land under no written agreement

Practically, the hari-landlord relationship is governed under no law. Haris are not registered under the record of rights as permanent tenants as per the 1950 law. Usually, peasants share expenses incurred by their landlords as the latter purchase all inputs either by themselves or through local financiers. These local lenders charge interest rates that are multiple times higher than the mark-up on a typical bank loan.

For instance, a local lender provides farmers with a urea bag at Rs2,400 on credit even though its actual price varies between Rs1,600 and Rs1,700. The loan is usually adjusted once the crop is harvested and sold either in the market or to the same lender.

This undermines the monetary interests of haris who have to make do with a meagre share in the profit after the deduction of expenses. Landowners maintain accounts of expenditures and settle the same with haris after the harvest. Haris till the land under no written agreement.

A landlord lets haris cultivate separate pieces of land. They depend on the landlord for meeting their day-to-day needs as he ensures the supply of irrigation water, seeds, fertiliser, pesticides and tractors.

Although the STA is considered a pro-peasant law, rights bodies have come up with some draft amendments to make it more progressive. However, the Sindh government hasn’t considered those amendments yet.

Many people believe that elected representatives in rural Sindh are primarily from powerful landed aristocracy and get support from their urban counterparts. Overall, 10 amendments have been made to the law. But there hasn’t been any meaningful impact as far as conditions of the haris are concerned.

The STA calls for setting up tribunals to resolve hari-landowner disputes. But no such body has been set up so far.

One draft amendment calls for placing the tribunals under the judicial magistrate instead of a taluka-level assistant commissioner as enshrined in actual STA.

Another draft amendment calls for making a tribunal’s decision challengeable in “higher civil courts” contrary to the actual provision that says, “A decision of tribunal or in appeal by collector (deputy commissioner) and then by commissioner shall be final and shall not be called in question in any court.” But these amendments have not been considered.

Interestingly, farm workers and those working in the fisheries sector are now covered by the definition of “industrial labour” under Sindh Industrial Relations Act (SIRA) 2013. But the rules under the SIRA have not been issued yet.

Sindh Abadgar Board Vice President Mahmood Nawaz Shah says relevant departments lack the capacity to implement tenancy rules. Laws like the STA couldn’t take effect under a weak governance structure.

Mr Ali says conditions for farm labour are extremely poor. “They have no right to form a union. When a hari is not registered with the revenue department, he and his family can be evicted by the landowner any time,” he says.

Any payment of advances to haris is prohibited under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 2015

An identical situation exists even in the formal labour sector where third-party employment by factory owners is commonplace now, he adds.

The cases of bonded labourers are usually reported against the backdrop of the poor implementation of tenancy laws. Such haris escape from the clutches of landowners to avoid paying the debt they obtained in advance. Any payment of advances to haris under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 2015 is prohibited. But the law is rarely implemented.

Peasant rights activists claim that 13.46 million people were employed in Sindh in 2012. Of them, as many as 7.74m were based in rural areas. A majority of them work as sharecroppers — landless tenants or peasants — as well as wage labour.

Trade unionist Nasir Mansoor asserts that even the STA has become obsolete now. He believes that only getting haris freed from bondage is no solution to the issue. An entirely new consultation is needed to look at the hari-landlord relationship, he stated, adding that peasants will continue ending up as losers otherwise.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, October 1st, 2018



The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) celebrates the World Food Day on October 16 every year. This year FAOs slogan is “A#ZeroHunger World by 2030 is possible.” But across the world, small and landless farmers, labour organizations commemorate the day as “World Hunger Day”. Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), Roots for Equity, PAN AP, and various organizations have campaigned from October 1-16 to highlight the critical importance of agro-ecology and the important character of youth in promoting agroecology, and have used the theme “ Youth on the March: Building Global Community for Agroecology and Food Sovereignty” for the World Hunger Day.

To protest the rising hunger across the globe, and in Pakistan, PKMT and Roots for Equity took out a rally in Haripur, Khyber Pakhtunkwa which included small and landless farmers from many KPK districts.

According to the Altaf Hussain, National Coordinator, PKMT 60% of Pakistani population is facing food insecurity.  A very large majority of the population was living under poverty, and this is the basic reason that 80% children are deprived of adequate nutrition, 44% children were suffering from malnourishment. No doubt hunger can be eradicated from Pakistan but in the current state of industrial agricultural production, where huge transnational corporations with their toxic hybrid, genetically engineered technology have got their tentacles in the system, it is NOT possible. These corporations are earning super-profits through the exploitation of small and landless farmers and this is the most critical factor in the escalating hunger, malnutrition and poverty. In Pakistan, in spite of surplus production of wheat and rice, feudalism, corporate agriculture and international trade agreements that such a large majority of the people, especially women and children suffer from hunger. Only by taking away the control of feudal lords, and corporations from our lands, our food systems and markets can eliminate hunger.

Fayaz Ahmed, Provincial Coordinator, KPK stated that the promotion of foreign investments, and an export-oriented economy, and vast infrastructural projects are resulting in the eviction of small and landless farmers; this in the face of the fact that only 11 percent of big landlords own 45% of agricultural land. The expansion of the Hattar Industrial Zone is a living example for which not only small farmers were evicted but even the labor force employed in the industries suffers from very low wages and lack of basic human rights.

Mohammad Iqbal, District Coordinator Haripur stated that the governments willingness to allow global capitalist powers control over our markets, promotion of unsustainable agriculture practices has resulted in land and food production to be a source of profit-making. All this has not only exacerbated hunger among rural communities but has also caused environmental pollution especially food pollution, and climate change. In order to get rid of poverty, hunger and joblessness, equitable land distribution must be carried out, for attaining food security and food sovereignty the control of corporations, especially agro-chemical corporations must be eliminated. All this is only possible if the farmers including women are central to decision making in rural economy, and of course agroecology is made the basis for healthy, sustainable food production systems. Only these measures will guarantee a sustainable society.

The demands put forward by PKMT and Roots for Equity include.

Released by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek & Roots for Equity


The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2017.`

FAISALABAD: A landlord brutally tortured a tenant farmer in Chak No9 Shumali, Teshil Bhalwal of Sargodha, cutting off his ear and inflicting other horrific injuries.

Muhammad Riaz’s buffalo had wandered in landlord Irshad Ashraf’s fields, grazing in his fields. The landlord got infuriated and decided to teach him a lesson. On Saturday, he asked his brothers, Naveed and Asghar and six other men to bring Riaz to his Dera. They allegedly blindfolded him, forced him to swallow some poisonous chemical, pulled out his nails with pliers, chopped off one of his ears and broke his legs.

The victim was admitted to the District Headquarter Hospital, Sargodha where his condition is stated to be critical. SHO Saddar Muhammad Akram told The Express Tribune that Ulfat Hussain, the farmer’s cousin, filed a complaint and police were awaiting for the medico-legal report from the hospital to book the landlord and his accomplices. He added that three of the accused, Naveed, Asghar and Sajjad, had already been taken into custody.

The complainant told the police that no one in the village had dared to come to rescue his cousin when he shouted for. When Riaz fell unconscious, the landlord and his accomplices threw him outside his house and threatened his family that they would kill them if they informed the police about the incident.

The medical officer of the DHQ hospital told The Express Tribune that although the victim’s condition was improving, he was still in critical condition.

Riaz, 52, works as a labourer and is father of two children.

کیا کسان، مزدور اور عام آدمی کے لیے بجٹ میں کچھ ہے؟

پاکستان کے وزیرِ خزانہ اسحاق ڈار نے اڑتالیس کھرب روپے کا وفاقی بجٹ پیش کر دیا ہے، جس میں انہوں نے دعویٰ کہ لوڈ شیڈنگ کا اگلے سال مکمل خاتمہ کر دیا جائے گا اور عوام کی سہولت کے لیے کئی اقدامات کیے جائیں گے۔

وزیر خزانہ اسحاق ڈار نے کہا کہ مجموعی قومی پیداوار( جی ڈی پی) کی شرح دس سال میں پہلی مرتبہ بلند ترین ہوئی، پاکستان ایشیا کی بہترین کارکرگی دکھانے والی مارکیٹ بنا، معیشت کا حجم تین سو بلین ڈالرز تک پہنچا، جی ڈی پی کی شرحِ نمو پانچ اعشاریہ تین فیصد رہی اور زراعت کے شعبے میں کپاس، مکئی اور گندم کی ریکارڈ پیداوار ہوئی۔ ان کے بقول صنعتی شعبے کی ترقی پانچ اعشاریہ دو فیصد رہی، جب کہ خدمات کے شعبے میں یہ پانچ اعشاریہ آٹھ فیصد رہی۔ ڈار کا مزید کہنا تھا کہ جی ڈی پی کی شرحِ نمو کو اگلے مالی سال میں چھ فیصد تک لے کر جائیں گے۔ اس کے علاوہ وفاقی ترقیاتی بجٹ کی مد میں اکیس کھرب روپے خرچ کیے جائیں گے۔ پچپن لاکھ خاندان حکومت کی سوشل سیکورٹی پالیسی سے فائدہ اٹھائیں گے۔ سرکاری ملازمین کی تنخواہوں اور پینشنوں میں دس فیصد اضافہ کیا جائے گا۔
انہوں نے دعویٰ کیا کہ نواز حکومت نے کسانوں کو چھ سوارب کے قرضے دیئے۔ عالمی مالیاتی ادارے کے نئے پیمانے کے مطابق غربت میں بھی کمی ہوئی ہے، جو دوہزار دو میں 64 فیصد تھی اور دوہزار چودہ میں یہ 29.5 فیصد ہوئی۔ اس سال مارچ تک پانچ ہزار سے زیادہ کمپنیاں رجسٹرڈ ہوئیں اور زرمبادلہ کے ذخائر میں بھی اضافہ ہوا، جو اب سولہ ارب ڈالرز ہے۔

تجزیہ نگاروں کے خیال میں وزیرِ خزانہ کے یہ دعوے حقیقت کی عکاسی نہیں کرتے۔ ذرائع ابلاغ کے مطابق پاکستان کے کئی شہروں میں لوڈشیڈنگ کا جن بے قابو ہے۔ کراچی جیسے شہر میں کئی کئی گھنٹوں تک بجلی کی آنکھ مچولی چلتی رہتی ہے جب کہ دیہی علاقوں کا کوئی پر سانِ حا ل نہیں ہے، جہاں اٹھارہ اٹھارہ گھنٹے کی لوڈ شیڈنگ ہو رہی ہے۔ ملک میں زراعت کے شعبے کو بھی گزشتہ پانچ سالوں میں شدید دھچکا لگا ہے اور صنعتی شعبے کی بھی بری کارکردگی کی وجہ سے ایکسپورٹ کم ہوئی ہیں۔
معروف معیشت دان ڈاکڑ عذرا طلعت سعید نے موجودہ حکومت کی پانچ سالہ معاشی کارکردگی پر تبصرہ کرتے ہوئے ڈوئچے ویلے کو بتایا، ’’پانچ سال میں اس حکومت نے کوئی عوام دوست بجٹ پیش نہیں کیا۔ میں زرعی شعبے سے منسلک ہوں اور کسانوں کے ساتھ کام کرتی ہوں۔ تو اس شعبے کے حوالے سے میں یہ کہہ سکتی ہوں کہ حکومت نے جو سبسڈی دی، اس سے چھوٹے کسانوں کو کوئی فائدہ نہیں ہوا۔ یہ کسان پاکستان کی اکثریت ہیں۔ حکومت کی پرائس پالیسی نے ان غریب کسانوں کا کوئی بھلا نہیں کیا۔ زراعت کے شعبے میں کوئی ریگولیشن نہیں ہے اور نہ وہاں کوئی کم سے کم اجرت کا تصور ہے۔ کیڑے مار دوا، یوریا، فرٹیلایرز اور دوسرے کیمیکلز پر سبسڈی دے کر انہوں نے نہ صرف زراعت اور دیہی مزدوروں کا نقصان کیا ہے بلکہ پورے معاشرے کو بھی ایک تباہی سے دو چار کر دیا ہے۔ ان کیمیکلز کی وجہ سے سرطان سمیت کئی امراض بڑھ رہے ہیں۔ جراثیم کش ادویات کے اسپرے کے بعد جب خواتین کھیتوں میں جا کر کام کرتی ہیں تو ان کے ہاتھوں میں زخم لگتے ہیں جس کی وجہ سے یہ جراثیم کش ادویات کے کیمیکلز براہ راست ان کے خون میں داخل ہوجاتے ہیں، جس سے انہیں کئی طرح کی بیماریاں لاحق ہو رہی ہیں۔ کیمیکلز ذدہ اس خوراک کو جب عام پاکستانی کھاتے ہیں تو وہ کئی طرح کی بیماریوں میں مبتلا ہو جاتے ہیں، جس میں سرطان سرِ فہرست ہے۔ لیکن کسان جو اس ملک کی اکثریت ہیں ان کا کوئی پر سان حال نہیں۔‘‘
ایک سوال کے جواب میں انہوں نے کہا،’’ کسانوں کو نہیں بلکہ ایکسپورٹرز کو سبسڈی دی جاتی ہے یا پھر زرعی اجناس کے تاجروں کو۔ مثال کے طور پر گندم کو پیک کرنے کے لیے ایک مخصوص طریقے کی بوری ہوتی ہے، جسے بار دانہ کہتے ہیں۔ اگر آپ اس بوری میں گندم پیک کریں تو آپ حکومت کو گندم کی ایک من کی بوری تیرہ سو روپے میں فروخت کر سکتے ہیں ورنہ آپ کو اوپن مارکیٹ میں یہ گیارہ سو روپے کی بیچنی پڑے گی۔ یہ بوریاں با اثر تاجروں اور جاگیرداروں کے پاس ہوتی ہیں، کسانوں کے پاس نہیں۔ تو اس کا فائدہ بڑے اور بااثر لوگوں کو ہوتا ہے۔ بالکل اسی طرح ملک میں شوگر ملز کی ملکیت زرداری، نواز اور دوسرے با اثر لوگوں کے ہاتھ میں ہے۔ ان لوگوں نے شوگر کے کاروبار میں اربوں روپیہ کمایا ہے لیکن کسان کی حالت یہ ہے کہ آٹھ دیہی مزدور مل کر ایک گنے کے ٹرک کو بھرتے ہیں اور اس میں انہیں پورے تین دن لگتے ہیں اور اگر آپ ان کی اجرت کا سنے تو آپ کو رونا آئے گا۔‘‘

کراچی یونیورسٹی کے اپلائیڈ اکنامکس ریسرچ انسٹیٹوٹ سے وابستہ سید ضیاء عباس رضوی کا کہنا ہے کہ موجودہ حکومت کے پانچ برسوں کی معاشی پالیسی کا نتیجہ یہ ہے کہ ہماری برآمدات بڑھنے کے بجائے کم ہورہی ہیں،’’اس حکومت کے دور میں یورپی یونین نے ہمیں جی ایس پی پلس کا درجہ دیا جو ہمارے لیے بہترین موقع تھا کہ ہم بیلنس آف ٹریڈ کو بہتر کریں لیکن سیاسی عدم استحکام اور کرپشن کی وجہ سے یہ ممکن نہیں ہوسکا۔ ہمارے صنعت کاروں نے حکومت سے آسان شرائط پر قرضے لیے لیکن ان کو صنعتی شعبے میں لگانے کے بجائے زیادہ منافع کے چکر میں اسے پاکستان اور دبئی کی رئیل اسٹیٹ میں لگایا۔ حکومت کو چاہیے تھا کہ ان قرضوں کے استعمال کو چیک کرنے کا کوئی سسٹم بنائے۔ اس کے علاوہ ایف بی آر کی طرف سے ریبیٹ کی مد میں صنعت کاروں کا جو پیسہ روکا جاتا ہے، اس سے بھی صنعتی پیداوار متاثر ہوتی ہے، جس کا اثر آپ کی بر آمدات پر بھی پڑتا ہے۔‘‘
انسانی ترقی کے شعبے میں بھی حکومت کی کارکردگی بہتر نظر نہیں آئی۔ معروف دانشور ڈاکڑ مہدی حسن نے مطابق پاکستان میں تعلیم کی شرح بڑھنے کے بجائے گھٹ رہی ہے۔ انہیں نے ڈی ڈبلیو کو بتایا، ’’حکومت کے اپنے اعداد و شمار کے مطابق تعلیم کی شرح میں دو فیصد کمی ہوئی ہے۔ اس کی وجہ یہ بھی ہے کہ ہمارے معاشرے میں بلند مقام حاصل کرنے کے لیے تعلیم ضرورری نہیں ہے۔ اس حکومت نے یہ سمجھا ہے کہ صرف سڑکیں بنانے سے قومیں ترقی کرتی ہیں۔ آج تک کسی حکومت نے بھی تعلیم پر جی ڈی پی کا چار فیصد خرچ نہیں کیا، جو یونیسکو کے مطابق کم از کم ہے۔ بے نظیر کے دوسرے دورِ حکومت میں یہ شرح تین اعشاریہ آٹھ فیصد تک گئی تھی، جو ستر برسوں میں بلند ترین ہے۔ تو جب آپ تعلیم پر خرچ ہی نہیں کریں گے تو خواندگی کیسے بڑھے گی۔‘‘



Dawn, January 17th, 2017

KARACHI: The Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) welcomed the new policy for home-based workers approved by the Sindh government.

Speaking at the Karachi Press Club, general secretary of the HBWWF Zehra Khan, said the policy would ensure equal wages for women. Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah approved the policy on home-based workers in Nov 2016 while the law and justice department gave permission to pass the official notification on Jan 13. The approval of the policy makes Sindh the first province in the country to legally recognise home-based workers. She said that the policy was made keeping in mind international rules and regulations.

“This policy, which will eventually become a law, recognises the women workers as well as register them under the social security framework,” said Khan.

Accompanied by women workers, Zehra said that the policy remained on the back burner for three years until the CM took notice of it. She said that there is an estimated 1,20,00,000 home-based workers in Pakistan adding that the number may vary.


Express Tribune, November 11th, 2016.

Muhammad Shahzad

Lahore: In yet another case of a fire in Lahore, three workers were burnt alive inside a garment factory in Shafiqabad on Thursday.

The fatal accident once again exposes the authorities’ failure to implement building and safety protocols in the provincial capital.

The blaze erupted due to short-circuit early in the morning when the factory workers had just arrived at Ashraf Garments, a manufacturing unit set up in a double-storey building spread over a three-marla plot in Kareem Park.

At least 20 workers were on duty at the unit, which is situated in a congested residential area. The factory had no proper emergency exit or any attention paid to building bylaws or safety procedures.

The owner had set up his office on the ground floor while the cotton manufacturing units were set up on the second and third floors, police said.

At around 8.30am, Rescue 1122 received the call about the fire. Ten teams of rescuers and fire-fighters arrived at the spot to evacuate the people stranded inside the building. The fire was controlled after at least three hours.

All the workers had managed to flee when the fire broke out except for the three labourers, whose way out was blocked by some fallen cotton bales, according to preliminary investigations. Two of the three victims had already expired while the third man died on the way to hospital. The deceased were identified as Ashraf, 45, Javed, 22, and Shahid 20.

A rescue official said dense smoke, congested area, dangling wires and presence of flammable material inside the factory were the main hurdles in the rescue operation.

This is not the first fire in which labourers have died due to poor working conditions in factories. Recurrent incidents in the provincial capital owing to corporate greed and negligence of government departments have claimed numerous lives.

Two months ago in September, three labourers had died when a boiler exploded in a manufacturing unit of a bakery in Kahna. In June, a worker was burnt to death in a steel factory in Bhaghbanpura.

In November last year, five workers were burnt alive when an oil tanker exploded in Haidri Steel Mill in Batapur.

Four workers had died when a roof of a factory collapsed in Kahna in September last year. At least 45 workers had died when a three-storey factory collapsed in Sunder Industrial Estate last year.

The place where the latest incident took place is not fit for work at all, said Niaz Khan, the general secretary of Powerlooms and Garments Workers Union. The government has no system of checks as people have setup factories in residential areas.

“The industrial units are growing like wild bushes and there is no system of inspection by the labour department,” he said. “There are no emergency exits or clear ways to respond to emergencies.”

Rescue 1122 spokesperson Jam Sajjad Hussain said no regard for building bylaws or safety codes was the main reason behind the unfortunate accidents. He said the building owners must adhere to the bylaws as it would help save their property as well as the lives on the labourers.

City District Government Lahore spokesperson Imran Maqbool said they were moving factories that were manufacturing chemicals outside the city and a crackdown against such factories was underway. Afterwards, the CDGL would take action against such industrial units, he added.


Dawn, October 20th, 2016

HYDERABAD: The Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) on Wednesday called for the implementation of the policy drafted by it in consultation with other relevant organisations for due rights of home-based workers.

Speaking at a press conference in the local press club on Wednesday, the federation’s general secretary Zehra Khan announced that her organisation would observe ‘South Asian Home-Based Workers Day’ on Thursday by raising its voice for the rights of this neglected segment of society.

She said the federation had submitted the draft policy to the government but it was yet to be implemented.

Stressing that the home-based workers act must be finalised for the welfare of workers, she said that more than five million people in Sindh alone would benefit from the policy.

HBWWF information secretary Shakeela Khan, Home-based Women Bangle Workers Union general secretary Jameela Abdul Lateef and others were present at the press conference.

Presenting a charter of demands, they said that home-based workers should be given social cover; the federal and provincial governments should employ a tripartite mechanism for resolving of their issues.

The government should ratify the ILO convention C177, signed in 1996, and should make laws in the light of it.

They said that all political parties should put workers welfare and struggle for labour rights on their agenda and workers should be defined in the book of law accordingly to the production system in the current scenario.

They also demanded for establishment of training centers for home-based women workers and facilities to provide them special access to markets for showcasing their products.

Speaking about the day, Zehra Khan explained that Oct 20 was a historic day for home-based workers because in Katmandu Decla­ration in 2000, labour unions and other organisations had decided to commemorate this day as ‘South Asian Home-Based Workers Day’ and pledged a struggle for the rights, social security and identity of more than 50 million home-based workers in South Asia, of them 80 per cent were women.

She said the HBWWF would organise a rally in Karachi and a workers’ convention in Sanghar on Thursday.

Decent Wages for Agricultural Laborers!

Press Release: World Hunger Day

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nation holds 16th October as “World Hunger Day” every year for the past 70 years. The United Nations slogan for World Hunger Day is “Climate is changing. Food and Agriculture Must Too.” However, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity in collaboration with Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN AP) has marked the day as “World Huger Day”; A public rally participated by the large number of small and landless farmers was in Haripur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) protested the abysmal condition of food security faced by a majority in the country, especially the women across the working class and small producers.

Speaking to the rally the PKMT provincial coordinator Tariq Mehmood stated that Pakistan is one of the largest producers of wheat, rice and milk. Despite this fact, the advent of free marketing, corporate farming and land grabbing in the name of agricultural progress has deeply aggravated hunger and has further impoverished the marginalized sectors, especially women. It is shameful that Pakistan is 147th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index, 121st in 155 countries on the Gender Inequality Index, and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) shows that 45.6% of Pakistani are multi-dimensionally poor. The aggressive corporate agriculture policies implemented in the country coupled with lack of equitable distribution of land are responsible for the relentless poverty in the country.


District coordinator PKMT Fayaz Ahmad was scathing of the UN’s slogan “Climate is changing. Food and Agriculture Must Too.” It is the disastrous fossil fuel economy that has created chaos in Hattar, as well the climate catastrophe world over. Now these corporations are providing ‘climate smart’ technologies, which will earn them more profits and the landless, small famers more hunger and misery.

Several leaders of PKMT from KPK stated that poverty and hunger can only be corrected if farmers are allowed to be the key decision makers for agriculture and rural development policies. The Government has initiated programs such as China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that have adverse impacts on farmers, especially along the CPEC route including in Haripur and Hazara; this will surely increase poverty and hunger in KPK and the rest of Pakistan.

PKMT demand’s an equitable distribution of land with the elimination of the role of international corporations from rural and agriculture development. Only self-sufficiency in agriculture production can ensure food sovereignty for the country. In addition, agricultural laborers, especially rural women be recognized as a formal sector a must of decent wages.


PKMT and Roots for Equity also hold a press conference in Multan Press Club on the eve of World Hunger Day on 16th October, 2016. According to Dr. Azra Talat Sayeed, Executive Director, Roots for Equity, an almost criminal impact of unjustlabor practicesin agricultural sector is the impact on agricultural work force, especially women who comprise a huge percentage of the agriculture labor force. They form the bulk of labor force in sowing, harvestingof important crops such as cotton, wheat, sugarcane and rice, including vegetables. According to Mr M. Sadiq, a landless farmer from the riverine belt, “our misery is based on inequitable distribution of land and lack of decent wages for agricultural workers.” According to an ongoing research of Roots for Equity, in Sindh and Punjab women cotton pickers earn Rs 200 to 300/maund of cotton; sugarcane harvesting earns them nothing but measly amounts of fodder. Wheat harvested in extreme weather conditions earns them no more then 5-8 kg of wheat per day (Rs 150-250/day).Agriculture women workers, working 8-10 hours/day, face acute gender discrimination and human and women rights violations. It needs to be emphasized that the role of these women in agricultural production is responsible for vast amount of foreign exchange earnings.

Released by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity