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Rally demands relief as 18m workers affected by Covid-19

KARACHI – A large number of textile and garments factory workers staged a protest rally here on Sunday against blatant violation of labor laws at their workplaces and warned of staging a sit-in in front of the Sindh Assembly if the worsening situation was not urgently handled.

The rally was staged by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) from Bilal Chowrangi Korangi Industrial Area and ended at the Karachi Press Club (KPC). It was led by veteran labor leader Comrade Gul Rehman and general secretary of Textile Garments General Workers Union Nisar Ahmed Panhwar. A large number of workers carrying red flags, placards and banners attended the rally and chanted slogans.

Addressing the rally, NTUF general secretary Nasir Mansoor said local factories working for international fashion garment brands had kept their workers in slavery like conditions and all local and international labor laws were being violated in the factories that were virtually sweat shops.

He said textile and garment industry was playing the role of backbone of the country’s economy, but the government policies and attitude of international brands had made hundreds of thousands of workers of this sector virtually low-wage slaves, who were deprived of their due rights. He said the country would also progress and prosper if the working conditions and living standard of those labors were improved.

Nasir Mansoor further said the textile and garment factories of Karachi, especially Korangi industrial area, including the factories that make exportable goods for international brands were openly violating local and international labor laws. He said 99 percent of workers of this sector were deprived of their labor rights including the right of making labor unions. The nexus of corrupt bureaucracy and factory owners has made it almost impossible to give workers written appointment letters and getting them registered with social security, workers welfare fund and old age benefits institutions. Textile and garment factories of Karachi are converted into modern slave houses and jails for their workers.

He said:”Pakistan is the third largest cotton producing country of the world and also the eight largest country regarding textiles and garments. The share of textile sector in the national GDP is 8.5 percent and in national foreign exchange its share is more than 60 percent, but still the workers of this sector do not get their due rights and they face harassment and fear at workplaces.

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