Karachi - PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the first May is the day of workers, who snatched their rights through an organised struggle and sacrifices. “This is your success that May 1 is observed as a Labour Day all over the world.”

He was addressing a ceremony held here at the CM House on Monday to distribute grants [cheques} among the industrial workers’ families by the Worker Welfare Board of the labour department.

The ceremony was organised in connection with the World Labour Day.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, provincial ministers and others attended the programme.

Bilawal said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was the first leader of Pakistan who had declared May 1 as a public holiday, and it was he who had set up the Employees Old Age Benefit (EOBI) and protected workers’ rights.

He reminded that Bhutto had taken over when there was a martial law in the country and 22 richest families were at the helm of affairs. He underscored that protection and promotion of workers’ rights was the legacy of PPP.

 “We have been protecting and promoting workers’ rights through legislation and by taking concrete steps for the provision of health, education and shelter to them.

He further said that during the last PPP government, President Zardari had decided to give 12 percent shares to workers in all the public sector industrial units, but Nawaz Sharif’s government did not implement it.

Bilawal urged the Sindh government to make EOBI, WWB and SESSI rules more workers friendly.

He called upon the chief minister to make a comprehensive labour policy in which all the workers working in different sectors could be protected.

PPP chairman also asked the CM to seek help from the Sindh High Court to make the labour courts more effective. “There is a dire need for abolishing the contract system and providing job security to poor workers,” Bilawal emphasised.

Speaking on the occasion, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said, “We all have gathered here to pay rich tributes to the struggle of labourers. “Your contribution to the construction of the country’s infrastructure, success of industrial units is unforgettable,” he said, and added that “Almighty Allah has given magic in your hands.”

Murad added, “You have built various national assets with your own hands and this is our pride.”

He said that in the light of 18th constitutional amendment, his government had passed 13 different laws under which more legal protection had been given to the rights of workers. “We have allocated Rs1 billion for the welfare and compensation of workers and their families, and toady we are distributing Rs500 million, including Rs160 for dowry and Rs290 million for compensation and the rest for medical treatment,” he said.

Murad further said that ZAB was the first prime minister of Pakistan who had enacted laws for labourers and ensured medical and educational cover to their families.

“He also secured their post-retirement period by giving them gratuity. He fixed retirement age of male workers at 55 and 50 years for female workers,” the CM said, and recalled “In his first speech as President of Pakistan on national radio, he had termed workers strength of the country,”

He said ZAB had also set up EOBI, Workers Welfare Fund, Workers Participation Fund, labour courts and other such organisations under which the rights of workers and their families were secured.

 “I have inherited the legacy to serve the workers, peasants and industrial labourers from my party’s leadership,” he said, and vowed to fulfill the commitment of ZAB and Benazir Bhutto.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the chief minister presented a memento of Labour Day to the PPP chairman.

Earlier, the PPP chairman distributed compensation cheques among the widows of workers.

Secretary Labour Saeed Awan announced that the amount had already been transferred to the accounts of the widows and it was just a formality under which they were being handed deposit slips.

Renowned industrialist Majeed Aziz also spoke on the occasion and emphasised the need for developing a good working relationship among workers and industrialists.