Every year on May 1, people across the world, including Pakistan celebrate Labour Day as a public holiday. A few arrange get-togethers to enjoy the much needed holiday while others spend it either watching TV, playing games or sleeping in all day. The idea is to gain as much from this day as one can – for oneself. But, what no one does is think about what this day truly stands for. Has any of us done something of value for the labour class or tried to resolve their problems?
There are countless problems which are being faced by our laborers such as poverty, illiteracy, food and water crises and so many others. A vast majority of labourers and daily-wage workers remain outside the field of labour laws, which means that workers have no paid holidays, no job security, no medical coverage, no pension or provident fund, no limit on working hours and are paid no overtime. In Pakistan with all this, there is also an issue of child labour. Child labour in Pakistan is growing at a disturbing rate. Hundreds and thousands of children struggle to achieve basic necessities of life. Children are the future of any country; we should all work to help them become a better people. Child labour is a very complex problem with its root in the socio-economic environment of the country. The children suffer from lack of education and health facilities and better employment.
It is important to note that Pakistan became a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) right after its independence in 1947. However, there is not much change when I look at the present situation, there seem to be no labour laws’ implementation. There should be international monitoring in the country and people should be held accountable who use child labour and bonded labour.
I know many people who are working as labourers just for a small amount and they don’t have even one day off, because the day they don’t work there is no food in their house.
What Do People Do?
Labor unions throughout Pakistan organize seminars, rallies and parades where union leaders deliver speeches emphasizing the history of Labor Day and its importance. Workers and unions arrange street processions, and this portrays solidarity with workers around the world.
Pakistan is a developing country but the current scenario has improved compared to previous times. However, workers still do not enjoy as many rights as enjoyed by workers in more developed/industrialized countries. Many organized street demonstrations take place on Labor Day, where workers and labor unions protest against labor repression and demand for more rights, better wages and benefits.
Labor Day is a public holiday in Pakistan on May 1. All government and non-government organizations, factories and educational institutions remain closed. Laborers may willingly work on Labor Day, with or without payment of higher than normal wages.
Public transport may be less frequent on certain routes. Those wishing to travel in Pakistan via public transport during Labor Day should check with the local transport authorities before travelling. Many important avenues and streets are blocked to accommodate Labor Day parades and processions. Therefore, there may be traffic jams at certain times of day on certain routes.
Pakistan’s first labor policy was devised in 1972, in which May 1 was declared an official holiday. This policy also formulated the creation of the Social Security Network, Old Age Benefit Schemes and Workers Welfare Fund. Pakistan’s constitution also contains various provisions and articles about labor rights.
It is important to note that Pakistan became a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) right after its independence in 1947. The ILO is a United Nations (UN) specialized agency that promotes social justice and universally acknowledged human and social rights. Pakistan has ratified 36 ILO conventions of which eight are core conventions.