islamabad - It is 4:00pm in the federal capital and sixty-year-old Anwar Khan, who is a mason by profession, is still hopeful that the contactor will come and hire him for work.

The hiring will help him earn Rs 1,000 a day. Anwar is from Nowshera and nowadays he is living in a rented room at sector G-8 of Islamabad. His room is also shared by two other people. Out of his forty years of labour life, Anwar has spent 28 years in the federal capital. “I daily reach this main square of G-8 at seven o’clock in the morning with construction tools to find work but at this age, I am not a lucky man,” said Anwar.

Dozens of other young labourers sitting in the square also share the same pain. They daily come in search of work and return back to their homes empty handed. 

Professor Anwar Shah, an economic expert in Quaid-e-Azam University says that situation of these daily wagers is surely very unsatisfactory because it is impossible for this section of society to make their both ends meet with low income. “This class has no social benefits, in miserable emergencies their condition becomes the worst,” he said.

Minimum wage level of these workers is set by the government under Unskilled Workers Ordinance, 1969 with its social partners like worker organizations and employment association. However, after devolution of ministry of labour to the provinces, the wages are announced under Minimum Wages Ordinance, 1961. But both ordinances hold no solution to unemployment of these workers.

Prof Anwar Shah stated that the government must take this issue seriously because the entire family structure of these people belongs to a very unprivileged class they are unable to help each other in the time of need. “Unfortunately, they don’t get any support from any side,” he added.

Abdul Hakeem, a painter who sits in Karachi Company, describing problems of labourers said that hundreds of workers daily come here to find work and most of them remain unsuccessful.

When The Nation asked him what he does when there is no work for him, he replied, “I beg for charity in the evening, as I have to feed my children.”

According to Prof Shah, the reason behind unemployment of this unskilled labour is an increasing gap between demand and supply of this service sector. He opined there is no boom in construction projects while irregular payments by the government to its contractors have also escalated problems for workers.

But labourers also feel themselves entrapped in the hands of contractors. According to Abdul Hakeem, when a contractor hires labourer, he takes two to three hundred rupees commission from his wages and sometimes also delays his payment.

“We don’t prefer contractors, but sometimes we have no other option because something is better than nothing,” he said.

Prof Anwar Shah stated that the solution to this problem is not very difficult but daily wagers have never been a priority of the governments. These workers are not even registered at any forum.

He said registration process of this labour class is not a difficult task as they are easily found in the main squares of cities. “The government has left this sector at the mercy of the private sector,” he added.

Condition of majority of daily wage employees describes that they will not see any change in their social status during their lives.

Mason Anwar Khan told The Nation that he worked for forty years in his life, but was unable to save the money to start his own business at this age.

“I am a labourer and my two sons are also labourers,” he said. He said that for him time was good when he was young and able to work, but now nothing is good for him. This emerging disappointment among labour class can become a future challenge.

According to Prof Shah, the government should adopt a system by which these people can get work. He said, instead of direct hiring, companies should be established which can provide labour and when there is no work for them, these companies should pay some amount to these workers. This sector needs encouragement and attention of the government because they even cannot go for dressing of their wound which they get during the work.