ISLAMABAD - The brick kiln workers in the Punjab province have been demanding of the Punjab government since long to issue social security cards to them, but the authorities concerned have not paid any attention to the issue.

This week in a case of recovery of labourers from a kiln in Sialkot, the Supreme Court has also directed the Punjab Chief Secretary to register all the labourers working on the brick kilns as a recipient of the social security under the Employees’ Social Security Ordinance, 1965, subject to the conditions laid down in the Ordinance.

There are 350,000 brick kiln workers in 15,000 brick kilns across the province. The brick kiln owners do not register themselves under Employees’ Social Security Ordinance, 1965 to avoid making payment of the contribution. The court in its order has said:

“The owners be bound to pay their contribution to the Social Security Department.”

According to Additional Advocate General Punjab Muhammad Hanif Khtana, unfortunately the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1992, had not been implemented strictly, inasmuch as, the vigilance committees had not been formulated, as the members of the committees are 17 out of which 11 are the officials whereas 06 are the private persons, including the chairman, district council, and as there is no local government in place, therefore, the said committees could not start their function.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry hearing a number of cases, has insisted that that command of the Constitution in holding the elections be fulfilled, as the elected members, including the chairman, district council, etc, shall be helpful in solving the problems of maintaining law and order as well as to control crime, as through cooperation by them, the police and the law enforcing agencies would be more effective for bringing to book the culprits involved in different kinds of crimes.

The apex court has directed the Punjab government to activate the vigilance committees as early as possible. The court sent the copy to the inspector general of Police Punjab, for circulating among all the law enforcement agencies and DPOs and to ensure that in future there shall be no case of bonded labour and if such a complaint of habeas corpus is received in future, the DPO concerned shall be held responsible for the same.