Pakistan is at third position in a list of 167 countries where the problem of human slavery is most severe, said the Executive Secretary of Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) Hyacinth Peter during the consultation with policy-makers on “Existing Laws to Stop Bonded Labour: Gaps and Recommendations” held here on Friday.
He added that according Global Slavery (GS) Index Pakistan (2014) was at third position in a list of 167 countries where the problem of human slavery is most severe further said that any kind of slavery is illegal and an inhuman act. High ratio of slavery in the country is a matter of serious concern and failure of state institutions to protect the rights of labourers. Proper implementation of minimum wages, provision of social security and access to other facilities could stop bonded labour.
He said that according to Global Slavery Index 2,058,200 people are enslaved in Pakistan. He added that the provinces of Punjab and Sindh are hotspots of bonded labour. He pointed out that the sale and purchase of the brick-kiln labour has become a profitable job. Pesghi is being transferred from one generation to the next like a property.
He further added that lack of documentation of debt repayments and the non-payment of the minimum wages exacerbates bondage and compels families to put children to work. Upon death or permanent disability of adult workers, the remaining debt is transferred to other family members, including young children. He said Government should announce special policy on the bonded labour and give relaxation to the brick kiln worker for the contribution of the Punjab Employees Social Security Institution for gaining the social security cards so they may not needed to get the peshgi and less chance to bondage.
Nusrat Kamal District Officer Labour said that the main cases of the non-implementation of the labour laws are that the workers are oblivious of their rights. They cannot form their unions due to illiteracy. He said that for the brick kiln workers’ rights, the provincial government is going to start a project of Rs 5 billion for 7 years. This project will cover the Education of the workers’ children, the micro financing and rehabilitation of the freed worker.
Other speakers Nadeem Parwaz, Amir Naveed Jewa Ex MPA, Altaf Mehmood Qureshi, Babu Nafess Ansari Ex MPA, Farhan Bhatti, Naeem Haroon and Sohail Javaid urged state institutions and provincial governments to practically enforce the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 along with all necessary steps to end bonded labour. They demanded apt execution of system of minimum wages for all bonded workers as well as acceptance of their right to hold CNICs and derive due benefit from old age benefit and social security schemes. State Institution should ensure implementation of Article 25-A and extend facilities for compulsory free education to children and pay special attention to the rights and needs of the children of workers, especially bonded labour.