FAISALABAD, Dec 8: Powerloom workers have decided to stage another long march on Dec 11 as the district government committee formed to resolve their issues has failed to convene a single meeting despite the passage of about two-and-a-half months.
DCO Noorul Ameen Mengal had formed a committee comprising officials of the district government, labour department, factory owners and loom workers after a long march staged by the Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) on Sept 18 last.
LQM secretary-general Aslam Miraj said despite repeated requests by the district officer (labour) the factory owners did not even bother to give their consent to attend the meeting.
Talking to Dawn, he said the DCO had inked an agreement and assured workers when they had called off their long march that implementation of wages and rights of workers would be ensured, but his assurance proved a hallow slogan.
He said the DO (labour) had sent three letters to the DCO informing him that factory owners had been told to hold a meeting for resolving issues, but the DCO did not bother to reply.
“We are going to stage a long march on Dec 11 against the DCO who is available only to factory owners and parliamentarians. The DCO is intentionally ignoring rights of millions of workers. Labourers will not tolerate such attitude and will raise their voice,” Mr Miraj said.
Rejecting the allegations, the DCO said efforts were being made to ensure workers rights and action had been taken against those factory owners who were not implementing labour laws.
He said the district government was implementing the wages and lodged FIRs against the violators.
Refuting the claim of the DCO, Mr Miraj said the district government was imposing a minor fine on factory owners by submitting a challan rather than sealing their units and netting them on charges of violation of laws.
He said the record showed that not a single owner had been put behind the bars. On the contrary, he said, the labour leaders had served more than five-year imprisonment on charges of raising their voice for the rights of workers. “Now these leaders are again being booked in an extortion case,” he said.
Workers had staged a number of demonstrations against factory owners who were forcing them to work as loaders, oilman and even as cleaners which was unlawful, Mr Miraj said.
Imran Ali, a powerloom worker in Faizabad, said that owners had been compelling weavers for extra labour of cleaner, oilman and loader.
He said this practice had been going on for years under the very nose of the district government and the labour department.
He said instead of recruiting people for extra work the owners had closed their units leaving dozens of workers jobless.
Dozens of factories remained closed in Sidhar and Rashidabad for more than two weeks creating financial problems for labourers.
Neither any government officer nor any parliamentarian bothered to ensure any kind of compensation for the jobless workers.
Published by Daily Dawn on Dec 8, 2015