Textile, garment workers protest against sackings, anti-labour policies

Karachi, May 16, 2022: A large number of textile and garment workers here Sunday staged a protest demo outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) against sackings of workers and anti-labor policies. As per details, National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) organized the protest demo that was attended by various labour unions and organisations, as well as, the affected workers to condemn the forced retrenchment of workers from textile and garment factories and overall anti-labour policies and growing lawlessness.

Addressing the demo, NTUF general secretary Nasir Mansoor said that the atrocities being meted out to the workers of textile and garment sector, anti-human behavior to them and growing lawlessness is creating a violent resistance movement. He said the textile and garment sector plays the role of backbone in national economy and is a major source for earning precious foreign exchange.

He said that hundreds of thousands of workers of this sector are made salaried slaves. He said that these workers are deprived of their right to make their trade unions. He said that the capitalists are not willing to pay them government-announced minimum wages. He said there are no facilities of health and pension for these workers. He said that 90 percent of workers in this sector are being exploited through anti-human and illegal contract labour system.

He said that workers are being retrenched without any reason. The worst example of this atrocity is the workers of International Textile Limited situated in Korangi. This factory makes products for various brands and entities of North America and European Union. This factory has sacked many workers without any reason and the Labour Department has failed to dole out justice to the affected workers. He said that international brands were also appealed to help in restoration of the sacked workers but sadly they also failed to get these workers restored. He said the inhuman attitude being meted out to the workers would not be tolerated for long. He said that if the workers are not given their rights in a legal way they would be compelled to snatch them with force.

Addressing the demo, general secretary of Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) Zehra Khan said that with the cheap labour of workers the local factory and the international brands are earning huge profits.

She said that this factory makes products for international brands including S&M, Marriott and Accor. In 2021 there, annual profit was 41.6 Pounds, 2.045 billion dollars and 22 million Euros, respectively, but the workers making these brands are deprived of their basic rights, i.e., wages and employment. She said women workers are not paid equal wages and they also face harassment.

Owais Jatoi, a labour leader and sacked worker of International Textile Limited told that factories are made virtually prisons for workers. He said that workers are meted out the treatment of slaves. He said that female workers face sexual harassment. He said that retired personnel of security agencies are employed in factories to create fear amongst workers. He said that the workers who raise voice for their rights are disdained through security agencies, unions and mafias.

At the end of the demo, the protesters demanded that all sacked workers, especially those belonging to International Textile Limited Korangi, should be reinstated. Forced overtime in factories, especially in International Textile Limited should be stopped. Work should not be taken on government-announced holidays.

Overtime should be paid as per law. Difference in wages on the basis of gender should be stopped. Solid action should be taken on harassment and violent behavior with women workers. Contact labour system in textile and garment sector should be abolished. All workers should be issued appointment letters. Wages should be paid to workers through banks. All workers should be registered with the institutions of social security and pension.

Those spoke included Riaz Abbassi from National Trade Union Federation, Saira Feroz from United HB Garment workers union, Qazi Khizer of HRCP, Aqib Hussain from youth group Alternate, comrade Wahid Baloch, Anny and Parveen Bano of HBWWF.

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