Karachi: A huge demo was held here on Friday on the occasion of the International Labor Day to express deep concern over the onslaught of corona virus, and demanded of the government to ensure its social distancing SOPs strictly at factories and workplaces to save the lives of workers.
The demo organized by National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) was attended by a large number of workers and leaders of different trade unions, federations and civil society. Carrying red flags and banners, while maintaining social distance, they raised slogans.
Nasir Mansoor of NTUF said that they are celebrating the 134th international Labor Day in such circumstances, when corona virus has become a huge global challenge, and it has already devastated the working class.
He said that both developed and developing countries have failed to contain this virus and the outdated healthcare system at global level has fallen on its knees. Millions of lives are at threat of death due to the faulty policies of rulers. He further said the countries like China and Vietnam, where some traces of socialism are still present, showed a better response than the industrial western states.
Mansoor said global economies have already gone into the ICU and the states are struggling to survive. International organizations like the UNO, WHO and ILO have proved to be dead horses and they have failed miserably to tackle the crisis.
Zehra Khan of HBWWF said that so far 200 million workers have already been rendered jobless around the world. More than one billion other workers, about 38 percent of total labor force, are facing pay cuts or joblessness. Due to lockdowns more than 2.70 billion workers, 81 percent of global workforce, are facing cuts in their real wages. This is the most serious economic crisis after the Great Depression of 1929-30. The capitalists’ states instead of giving relief to the workers are giving historic relief to the wealthy classes. The USA has announced a relief package of $2 trillion for her industrialists. The UK is finalizing a relief package of 330 billion Euros, while Germany of 85 billion Euros. Following suit the poor countries like Pakistan are also trying to give relief packages to their capitalists and industrialists.
Karamat Ali of National Labour Council said that the Pakistani government due to its lack of ability has put the lives on 22 Crore people in uncertainty. Though the healthcare experts have already warned that the virus could take a huge life tool, the government steps to improve the healthcare sector are shamefully meager. Doctors are fighting this virus even without any facilities, while the so-called security state has already surrendered and playing the role of a spectator. It is shying away from saving lives of people. It has failed to provide people food and cash assistance. It has betrayed the workers who are being rendered jobless and also denied of their wages.
He Pakistani industrialists despite getting huge packages from government have so far sacked more than 6 million workers. As per an estimate, this number may climb to 12 million.
Habibuddin Junaidi of People’s Labour Bureau said that the government has allowed many industries to run under standard operating procedures (SOPs), but the ground realities show that these SOPs would not be followed by majority of industries and the lives of millions of workers would be put on stake.
The demo participants demanded that the forced sacking of labors during lockdown should be stopped and all workers included home-based workers should be given their wages. The industrialists should be compelled to follow the government instructions to save lives of workers. All foreign loans should be defaulted and this money should be spent on welfare of masses. All citizens should be registered with social security institutions. The budget of health and education should be made equal to the budget of defense. All anti-environment projects should be halted.
Those spoke included Gul Rahman (NTUF), Saeed Baloch (Pakistan Fisherflok Forum), Sajjad Zahir (Progressive Writer Association), Saeeda Khatoon (Baldia Factory Fire Association), Saira Feroz (United HB Garment Workers Union), Khaliq Zardagan (Lyari Awami Mahaz), Comrade Mazhar (JKNPP), Khizar Qazi (Ujala TV), Comrade Sultan (JKNPP), Aqib Hassan (J & P Coats), Dr. Raiz Sheikh (ZABIST), Zubair Ur Rahman (columnist), Shakil Kanga (Jang Union), Faheem Siddiqui (KUJ) and Shabnam Azam (HBWWF)