AWP pays homage to workers’ struggle, calls for steps to protect their rights
The Awami Workers Party pays homage to the martyrs of Chicago and salutes to the struggle and sacrifices of working men, women, youth and marginalised people whose blood, sweat and tears have made the modern world, but still facing social injustices, exploitation and subjugation.
In their joint message on the eve of the International Workers Day, the AWP President Yousuf Mustikhan, secretary-general Akhtar Hussain, Federal Committee members, and national units’ office-bearers said the working class and working people of the country have been reeling from an unprecedented pandemic we have never seen in our lifetime.
“The day reminds us of the most difficult and catastrophic situation where coronavirus has infected over three million people globally, killed nearly 220,000 and shut down economies. Over 1.6 billion workers — almost half of the 3.3 billion working people of the world – are at immediate risk of losing their jobs.
According to an ILO report, wages of the world’s two billion informal workers have fell by an estimated average of 60 per cent in the first month since the outbreak of the virus in each region.
On the one hand the pandemic has exposed the neoliberal economic system’s inefficiency that has not only generated hunger, war, inequality and hatred, and endangered the very survival of future generations but also the planet earth.
On the other hand it has raised many questions for the Left and progressive forces how to reimagine a post-Covid-19 scenario and struggle for setting up an egalitarian society based on equality, social justice and peace.
In Pakistan too, the crisis has hit hard the working class, peasants and millions of daily wagers in informal sector and thrown them into poverty.
The AWP leadership is of the view that the current governance and economic system in Pakistan has failed to protect the fundamental rights of the people including access to health and livelihood during the pandemic.
The doctors and health workers have been protesting lack of protective equipment. The AWP leaders said lives of the those fighting on the frontlines must be protected and provision of equipment for them must be ensured.
They expressed concern at the rising incidents of domestic violence against women and children and called on the government to ensure economic and social safety of the vulnerable segment of society.
The AWP leaders said the current government’s indecisiveness and anti-working class policies have aggravated the miseries of the poor and the marginalised leaving them at the mercy of the coronavirus, poverty, unemployment and hopelessness.
The government seemed to be more interested in extracting profits for the industrialist and the construction industry then protecting the working people.
They called for creating an emergency fund and cut in non-development and defence budgets to increase allocations for health, social protection of the workers and the marginalised people.
“The leadership urged the progressive forces, students, intellectuals, trade unionists, to get united and address the immediate fallouts of the lockdown on working people, as well as the contours of a broad-based politics to move beyond the rule of capital, patriarchy and imperialist power in all its forms.
There is a need for radical changes to the economy and governance to prioritize the basic needs of the working people including basic income, paid leave, health, education, and shelter.
Most of the workforce working in homes, bakeries, sweatshops, brick kilns, on roadsides, agricultural fields and many other sites of exploitation and subjugation lack safety nets such as health cover, and paid leave as they are not registered, unionized.
It is the constitutional obligation of the state to provide right to life to the people i.e. education, health, shelter and job, the AWP leaders said.
The party demands documentation and registration of all workforce — industrial, agrarian, orgnised, unorgnised, daily wages etc.– and fix minimum salary of Rs30,000 per month for each worker during the emergency situation, unemployment allowance and social security system.all jobless youth.
The party also demands improvement in labour laws, merger of EOBI, Social Security Institution and Workers Welfare Fund. The government must make sure that funds disbursed by finance ministry in ‘other heads’ must be withdrawn from various projects and used only for the welfare of workers.
The government should link all economic bailout packages announced for industrialists with job protection of workers.
Introduce land reforms and ensure social security of the rural population, agrarian workers, and peasants; abolish absentee landlordism, fix land ownership cealing, distribute excess land among agrarian workers, landless and poor peasants that will enhance the agricultural productivity.
The party warns against any conspiracy by undemocratic forces to reverse the 18th Constitutional Amendment which will undermine provincial autonomy and fundamental rights of the workers.
The part demands abolition of NIRC as it serves the interest of the employers and industrialists. The provinces should make legislation on the devolved subject of labour rights and establish their ownership on all natural resources of their respective province.
The federation should stop taking 50 per cent of the resources from federating units.
The party demands revival of local governments and giving them economic and political powers to address public issues at grassroots level.
The labour federations need to organize into a united labour front or a confederation and give a general strike call throughout the country.
The working hours should be reduced to four days a week till corona pandemic is over.
Issued by the information secretary