Peasants and rural workers are never a priority of the government

Peasants and rural workers are never a priority of the government

Nawabshah- 1st May 2022: On International Labour Day, Hari Welfare Association (HWA) held a rally from Allahwala Chawok to Nawabshah Press Club, huge number of peasants and rural workers participated. Addressing to the rally Akram Khaskheli president HWA said that rural workers and peasants constitute more than 70 per cent of the labour force in Sindh’s rural areas, who toil hard in agriculture, farms, and brick kilns but they have never been a priority of the government of Sindh. These millions of workers are without decent work and social security including the minimum wage. He stated that a rural worker hardly receives Rs6000 per month against the Rs25,000 minimum wage promised by the Government of Sindh for unskilled workers in 2019.


Khaskheli said that The Sindh Industrial Relations Act of 2013 acknowledges rural workers and peasants and allows them to join unions. The government, on the other hand, is doing everything it can to ensure the unionisation of such rural employees, particularly in the agriculture and brick kiln sectors. The Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Act (SWAWA) was passed in 2019, however as with any other law passed since independence, it is now inert. He said that the SWAWA, like any other law, could help to protect rural peasant and worker women from abuse, exploitation, and marginalisation in feudal and tribal societies.


Khaskheli further said that millions of young people in rural Sindh are compelled to labour roughly fourteen hours a day in grocery stores, restaurants, and workshops for barely Rs6000 per month due to unemployment and a lack of education, skills, and employment possibilities. Women and girls are among them, picking cotton and chiles for pitiful earnings. Poverty, unemployment, hunger, and social and economic injustice, according to HWA, force people to survive by exploiting and abusing their limited economic chances. According to HWA, most peasants have moved to the rural labour market, where they are paid nominal salaries, due to an increasing shortage of irrigation water to lower areas of the canals.


He stated that due to seasonal work and lack of irrigation water in many areas, workers often spend time on roadsides or the agriculture field searching for work when they do not find work and support from the government. They commit suicide. He added that the primary reason is the government lacks the will to ensure the implementation of labour rights laws and policies.


The statement said that there are nine labour courts in Sindh including six in Karachi and one each in Sukkur, Larkana and Karachi. There is also one labour appellate tribunal court in Karachi. There are District Officer Manpower and Labour Management in Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Nusheroferoze, Matiari, Sanghar, TMK, and Tando Allahyar.  District Officers Labour are positioned in Dadu, Ghotki, Jamshoro, Kashmore, Khairpur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas, Shahdadkot, Benazirabad, Shikarpur, Sukkur, Thatta, and Umerkot. There is also Deputy Director Labour Sukkur and the Directorate of Labour Thatta. The Directorate of Labour Headquarter Hyderabad, the Directorate of Workers Education Hyderabad, the Director of Worker Education Karachi, the Directorate of Workers Education Sukkur, and the Minimum Wage Board exist in Karachi. However, it is unknown what these institutions’ and officers’ capacities are, as well as what and how and who they have been serving, particularly in rural areas, for the last 10 years. It’s also unclear how many labour officers are missing from the district; for example, there has not been a labour officer in Benazirabad for years. The efficacy of these institutions and positions is likewise up for debate. 


They demanded that the government of Sindh ensure that Rs25,000 wage is given to all workers in rural areas. In this regard, exemplary punishments should be given to those who violate the minimum wage policy. They stated that it should strengthen monitoring mechanisms by increasing the number of labour inspectors and labour courts so that rural workers could access these for redressal and form their unions to bargain and protect their rights and labour rights laws.

Welcome to Hari Welfare Association, Sindh