At a recent dialogue organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Sindh, speakers observed that the absence of rules of business was the main hurdle in implementing the 2020 labour law. The social structure is complicit in the exploitation of agricultural workers in the province, noted HRCP Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt. Stressing that labour organisations should work together to secure the rights of agricultural workers, he observed that women labourers worked in very hot weather in poor health and safety conditions.
Labour activists have stressed the need to implement the Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act 2020, demanding social security for agriculture workers.
There is a need for more work towards women empowerment in every sector, he added. National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor said that the law was ambiguous and had loopholes. Labour laws overlap with the Sindh Industrial Relations Act 2013, he added. An estimated 620,000 labourers are registered but only 300,000 are active with social security, he said. Mansoor recommended that the government imposes one or two per cent tax on producers and factory owners to compensate the amount for social security of these workers.
Mahnaz Rahman of the Aurat Foundation said that the registration of women agricultural workers has not even been initiated. She observed that the pace of implementation of the law was very slow in the province. Sindh labour secretary Rasheed Solangi requested the labour activists to identify gaps and work together to improve them. Acknowledging the Sindh government’s efforts as far as legislation was concerned, Sindh Community Foundation’s Javed Soz noted that cotton workers were still facing poor working conditions. No facilities are provided by landowners, he said, adding that the workers need to be provided social security and need to be included in social support schemes.
The social security amount must be provided by the government as agricultural workers, with unfair wages, are low-income earners, he said.