Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Dawn Media Group & Abuse of Labour Rights

Daily Dawn was allegedly founded by the Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The CEO of Dawn group is Hameed Haroon, and the current editor of Dawn is Abbas Nasir, who is also looking after the Dawn News Channel [supposed to be a full time job], and how the hell it would be possible to look after two organizations at the same time!!

Hameed Haroon is Chief Executive Officer of The Dawn Media Group (DMG), Pakistan’s leading media conglomerate. The Group comprises Pakistan Herald Publications (Pvt.) Limited, the printers and publishers of DAWN newspaper and three leading magazines, Herald (current affairs) Spider (Information Technology) and Aurora (marketing and advertising); DawnNews Pakistan’s first and to-date only English language news channel; City FM89 radio and DAWN.COM-arguably Pakistan’s most visited news web portal. [Couurtesy: Wikipedia]

As per latest news update dated 25 May 2007 [AAJ NEWS 2100 HOURS].

On 25 May 2007 the DAWN NEWS CHANNEL's test transmission was commenced and guess what the opening ceremony was addressed by Generalissimo Generalissimus Il President Mr Parvez Musharraf. Whereas the so-called Beacon of the Press Freedom i.e. Pakistan Herald Publication Limited or to be precise Daily Dawn [DATED 25 MAY 2007] says:

"“In our endeavour to establish DawnNews we are enormously helped by our legacy – The legacy of DAWN, that was founded by the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah on 14th August 1947 in Karachi, the same day our nation was born. We believe that by facilitating access to information of the highest quality and with a defined commitment to clarity and accuracy, we can enable Pakistan’s young generations to assume their place as informed citizens of the world.”

But Jinnah had never dreamt of Controlled and Guided Democracy by Military Dictator as well as he never dreamt of that a Military Dictator would be addressing a forum founded by a Lawyer of Impeccable Character i.e. Mohammad Ali Jinnah

The tragedy of English Speaking Pakistani Elite Class can only be defined as:

If you lost money then nothing is lost,

If you lost health then something is lost,

If you lost character then you lost everything and nothing is left.

The most amazing thing is this that after all these years of boastful claims of Freedom of Press and leaseholding of Basic Human Rights, on 27 March, 2009, Mr Hameed Haroon at the behest of Editor Dawn Mr Abbas Nasir and Part TIME EXECUTIVE RATHER Hatchet Man of DAWN NEWS CHANNEL, sacked more than 70 employees in the name of reorganizing [Read Retrenchments and Iron Kick] the Dawn News Channel and this step is itself tantamount to Financial Murder and this is the step for which Hameed Haroon and Pseudo Leftists of Saadat-e-Amroha in Dawn Editorial Board hounded the several Civilian Government of 90s. Following is the list and names of Working Journalists/Technicians who have been summarily dismissed:

Another lame plea of Dawn Group Management is this that Dawn News Channel has nothing to do with Daily Dawn newspaper! I wonder what the hell Mr Abbas Nasir [Editor Dawn] is doing in Dawn News Channel and why the hell both the orgainzations share the same website?

Though the Report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is about Labour Rights but this report will give the readers an idea as to how bad things are in Pakistan. Is anyone in Daily Dawn Management listening!!!!


Publication-HRCP Annual Report - State of Human Rights in 2007

Unemployment and financial constraints forced many people to take desperate measures - HRCP recorded 339 suicides and 189 attempted suicides due to these reasons.

Female representation in the labour force continued to be low despite the fact that many more women sought employment due to financial needs and other reasons. Females constituted 25% of the labour force, with 80.36% of this force belonging to the rural areas.

Bonded labour was prevalent across the country with the number of bonded labourers in Pakistan recorded at 17 million, indicating that the problem was far from solved.

Child labour was also widespread with reports stating that more than 3.6million children under the age of 14 were working under hazardous and exploitative conditions

Labour laws were largely ignored and working conditions and salaries were in gross violation of basic workers' rights. Physical abuse of labourers was also recorded in many cases.


The state shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and the gradual fulfilment of the fundamental principle, from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.

Constitution of Pakistan

Article 3

Slavery is non-existent and forbidden and no law shall permit or facilitate its introduction into Pakistan in any form. All forms of forced labour and traffic in human beings are prohibited. No child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment.

Article 11(1-3)

Every citizen shall have the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order or morality.

Article 17(1)

The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work ...

Article 37(c)

The state shall secure the well-being of the people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed and race, by raising their standard of living, by preventing the concentration of wealth and means of production and distribution in the hands of a few to the detriment of general interest and by ensuring equitable adjustment of rights between employers and employees, and landlords and tenants; provide for all citizens, within the available resources of the country, facilities for work and adequate livelihood with reasonable rest and leisure; provide for all persons, employed in the service of Pakistan or otherwise, social security by compulsory social insurance or other means; provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all such citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, as are permanently or temporarily unable to earn their livelihood on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment; reduce disparity in the income and earnings of individuals ...

Article 38(a) to (e)

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 4

Everyone, as a member of society, has a right to social security ....

Article 22

Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 23(1-4)

State 170 ate of Human Rights in 2007

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holiday with pay.

Article 24

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 25(1)

State parties recognise the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 32(1)

Labour should not be viewed purely as a commodity as human beings are involved who need to be treated with dignity and fairness. In Pakistan, people have to work for a living since there are no Social Protection and Safety Net systems to speak of. They need to be motivated by providing them at least a minimum quality of life so that they may improve their productivity and thereby national economic growth. The operations of the labour market and its ability to provide decent incomes and jobs is a hugely neglected area of government policy in Pakistan because the standard assumption is that economic growth will automatically address poverty by producing equity through more and good employment opportunities. Growth is obviously essential for employment creation but it is not a sufficient condition, as is evident from the growth of the jobless seen in many economies in recent years.

Despite the rather generous definition of the employed as those who had worked for at least one hour in the previous week the unemployment rate is around 6% (approximately 3 million individuals), having dropped from 8.3% in 2000-01; as employment opportunities grew at 4.4% per annum (producing 1.8 million jobs per annum) as against the growth in the labour force at 4% per year.

Recent years have witnessed a shift towards manufacturing, however manufacturing, for a variety of reasons, has failed to absorb the number of workers shifting out of agriculture, especially since industrial policy remains skewed towards heavy technologically advanced industries such as automobiles, telecommunications and oil and gas exploration. Moreover, job generation does not match with the skill profile of the bulk of the available labour, forcing people to remain in agriculture much longer than they would like, increasing both rural unemployment and underemployment.

Decline in employment

Employment in the organized sector has actually declined over time with a shift towards self-employment, raising questions about the quality of employment being generated and its earning potential. There has been a sharp increase in the share of the unregistered manufacturing sector with substantial growth in the number of informal sector units and informal employment arrangements (in the number of those who have productive work for less than half of the year). The marginal occupations are small manufacturers, traders, street hawkers, shopkeepers and their employees, rickshaw and taxi drivers. The common feature of such employees is their vulnerability and that they live by informal laws and norms.

Moreover, female participation in the labour force continues to be significantly low despite the fact that they represent 49.6% of the total population. Females constitute 25% of the labour force, with 80.36% of this labour force belonging to the rural areas. The female unemployment rate dropped from 12.8% in 2004 to 9.4% in 2006. The biggest drop in the female employment was recorded in Balochistan, which came down to 7.1% in 2006 from 29.2% in 2004.

Future employment growth under liberalization will increasingly depend on skilled labour and the resource requirements (both financial and human) for the creation of such skills will be massive. With growing capital intensity Labour 171 of production processes and the attempt to make gains from economies of scale, simply to remain competitive, it will be difficult to maintain even current rates of employment. In other words, it will not be possible to absorb huge
additions to the potential labour force with limited skills.

Although recent economic growth in Pakistan has been impressive with significant improvements in poverty indicators and reduced unemployment it has not reflected itself in an increase in real wages for workers and improved working conditions. In fact the nature of economic growth has been such that it has been instrumental in producing low productive and poorly paid employment; the impact on employment has been only marginally favourable.

Moreover, just under 50% of the new jobs have been created in the category of ‘unpaid family workers’ of which 76% offer opportunities for female workers. Another reason for the poor impact of the economic growth on poverty has been the growth process which has mainly benefited the middle and upper income groups with the requisite skills and because of the liberal availability of consumer credit. Also, unlike the 1980s when remittances flowed largely to the lowincome households the sharp increase in remittances in recent years has ended up mostly with middle and higher income groups which invested these inflows into the stock and property markets.

It is also noteworthy that the growth strategy adopted after 2001-02 to push up growth and reduce the unemployment rate through the pump priming of the economy has resulted in high rates of inflation adversely affecting the purchasing power of the working population, increasing the burden of the poor with no assets to protect them from the rapid increase in prices. And there are no data on poor working families living on less than a dollar a day.

The real wages of agricultural workers, the poorest members of the labour force, and hence the most vulnerable, have remained constant, if not actually declined. According to a study conducted by the World Bank (Pakistan: Promoting Rural Growth and Poverty Reduction, World Bank Report No. 3903-PK, Mar 30), data for the period from 1998-99 to 2004-05 shows that while demand for labour rose because of higher overall growth rates that created greater employment opportunities particularly in the construction sector (although the increase was a modest 1% per annum in the last six years), real wages for unskilled casual labour actually declined by around 2.5% per annum. Also, there was almost no change in real expenditures per capita of rural households during this period, having declined by around 0.2% for the poorer 40% households. This was the outcome despite the increase in wages on account of economic growth and shortages of particular skills. The double-digit food inflation over the last two years is most likely to have pushed more households below the poverty line (estimated at 25% by the Government and 29.5% by the World Bank – using different price indices – for 2004-05, the latest year for which some official household expenditure data is available).

There are a lot of poor that cluster around the poverty line who are thrown back into poverty by the slightest shock, like the death or loss of job of the bread earner in the family or serious illness of a family member. The labour laws contravene ILO Conventions 81 (on labour inspection), 87 (freedom of association and protection) Prolonged wait for elusive work.

State 172 ate of Human Rights in 2007 and 98 (right to organize and collective bargaining) to which Pakistan is a signatory. As a result of this change in rules, the ILO responded by initiating its own set of requirements for multinationals to comply with the convention, thereby encouraging multinationals to hire their own auditors, complicating matters for exporters in Pakistan.

There is also the practice of hiring contract workers whose terms of employment are not consistent with the country’s labour laws and regulations, although;

a) Through the Finance Bill 2007, an amendment was proposed in the Companies Profits Act 1968 which would enable contract workers to participate in the Workers Profits Participation Fund;

b) In January, the contract system for inland fishing was replaced by a licensing system.

Bonded labour

Bonded labour continues to be one of the most pressing issues facing the country.

Actionaid statistics reveal that 50-60% of the population of rural Sindh comprises haris, while the Agriculture Survey of Pakistan and the ILO’s World Labour Report estimates put the number of bonded labourers in Pakistan at 17 million. It is quite alarming then, that between 1992-2007, the number of registered cases of bonded labour stood at 16 million, clearly indicating under-utilisation of the Rs. 100 million fund allocated for the elimination of bonded

In order to curb bonded labour, it is recommended that National Identity Cards (NIC) be issued to the brick kiln workers. Non-formal literacy and skill training centres should be established at brick kilns with pilot testing of brickmaking technologies to check their effectiveness.

It is important to devise financial mechanisms for facilitating workers and employers to enable them to launch publicity campaigns pursuing the Supreme Court’s October 20, 2006 decision, which directed government agencies and departments to act against bonded labour.

Bonded labour has led to the exploitation of a very large proportion of the labour force. For example:

a) In January, the Sital Marri police freed kidnappers of eight brick kiln workers without taking any action against them. The incident was widely construed as mafia activity to kidnap brick kiln workers for exploitation as bonded labour within Punjab;

b) A brick kiln owner of Sumbrial Morr, Sialkot, sent his men to Kot Addu and Multan to round up and bring people for bonded labour through any means. His men kidnapped four members of brick kiln worker Muhammad Azam’s family. At Hassanabad Gate No. 2 another four labourers were kidnapped. An HRCP team arrived in time to stop the vehicle and when police at Rescue-15 were informed they remained uninterested, quibbling over which police station’s jurisdiction the case fell under. Four hours after the incident occurred, the Shah Rukan-e-Alam town officer in charge, pleaded ignorance;

c) In January 2007 over forty peasants including women and children escaped

A labourer family soon after winning release from bonded labour. from the private jail of a wadera Labour 173 of Sanghar. They took shelter at the Sikandarabad hari camp, Kotri. They staged a protest demonstration against the wadera outside the Hyderabad Press Club. One of them, Premo, told reporters that they had been working without compensation for the past 25 years. They still feared for their life and safety and appealed for protection;

d) Similarly, in Hyderabad over fifteen bonded labourers escaped from a wadera’s private jail in Umerkot and sought refuge in a hari camp in Kotri. The Hyderabad circuit bench of the Sindh High Court registered a case against nine kiln owners for keeping workers in bondage and meting out inhuman treatment to them, including forcible removal of some workers’ kidneys and assaulting their wives;

e) The Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court ordered the release of 39 persons kept as bonded labourers on a brick kiln in Lohi Bher owned by a Union Council Nazim;

f) In Kasur (Mar 31) upon the attempted rape of a brick kiln worker the worker’s family registered a case against the culprits and when the latter demand that the case be withdrawn but the workers refused, the culprits shot at and killed the worker’s family members;

g) In March, kiln workers in Bakhsho Rind threatened to go on strike if their demands for social security cover and a wage increment from Rs 200 per 1,000 bricks to Rs 350 were not met. Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Declarations of 2005 and 2006 to the decent work agenda and the commitment to make full employment for all an objective of national policy. Promotion of equitable growth through provision of productive employment, adequate work conditions and decent living standards, consistent with international labour standards and fundamental rights of workers, should be the central plank of government policy. Failure by exporters to check child labour or violation of fundamental rights of workers will cost the economy and exporters heavily, since it will result in multinationals shifting their imports to other markets. The following recommendations address loopholes and weaknesses in the current Labour Protection Policy of

Implementation of the ILO Convention:

It is necessary that Pakistan implements the ILO Conventions to which it is a signatory, as the current system has not only awarded undue protection to employers, it has also threatened the security of employees. Numerous examples testify to this claim:

a) The amendment to the West Pakistan Industrial and Employment Standing Order 1968 redefined ‘workman’, thus affording undue advantage to owners;

b) In January the Lahore High Court expressed grief over the lack of action on the part of the federal government concerning the passing of laws to protect porters’ rights, despite recommendations to that effect by the labour ministry a year earlier;

c) Furthermore, employers have little regard for the well being of their employees. In February, the Supreme Court ordered that two employees of the health department be transferred to a department closer to their hometown saying basic facilities such as the cost of transportation to and from work ought to be considered when transferring employees;

d) According to the Pakistan Compliance Initiatives, based on the findings of Sears Holdings Canada, most industrial units in the county were not in compliance with globally accepted social obligations such as minimum wages, work hours and workers’ safety.

e) Furthermore, the 2006 ‘Human Development in South Asia’ UNDP report report noted that Pakistan’s privatisation policy threatened the jobs of more than 500,000 workers. Some 200 barbers in the Northern tribal agency were threatened by unemployment as tribal leaders prohibited shaving and trimming of beards as being unIslamic.

Working conditions

Improvement in the conditions of work and the treatment of employees at work should be awarded the utmost importance, as currently these pose a threat to the safety of the employees. For example;

a) In February, two young labourers fell victim to asphyxiation in Karachi while cleaning an oil-carriage tank at Zulfiqarabad Oil Terminal near Gulshan-i-Hadeed;

b) Another tragic event was witnessed at a garment factory in the Karachi Site area, where four firemen died in State 174 ate of Human Rights in 2007 a fire. This followed an unheeded call of the Pakistan Engineering Workers Union for greater protection at work. Just two days earlier, fire at a pharmaceutical industry in Hub had claimed two lives;

c) Maltreatment of the labour is a common practice, as was the case with a labourer, who attempted suicide on May Day to protest maltreatment at the hands of his employers;

d) In Hafizabad a labourer was thrown into a cauldron following a dispute with mill owners alleging he had stolen sacks of rice; e) In March one of four fishermen picked up by the fisheries department for fishing with illegal nets near Rohri succumbed to injuries sustained while in police custody.

Rights-based approach

There is a need to adopt a rights-based approach, along with better security of tenure, collective bargaining and enforcement of minimum wages, as 2007 saw numerous strikes and demonstrations by workers and worker unions claiming secure tenures and minimum wages. For example:

a) Following the Asian Development Bank-sponsored restructuring programme, the Zarai Taraqqiati Bank Limited sacked 1,850 clerical and non-clerical staff. Resisting the move, 300 workers took over control of the ZTBL headquarters and many others protested in zonal offices of the bank across the country. Amongst the retrenched workers were several handicapped employees;

b) Yet another angry protest was seen as workers struggled for their rights at Taunsa Barrage. Their movement gained in strength and momentum as the administration resorted to threatening the workers to stop them from pursuing their demands. It was reported that company authorities had hired local “feudals” and hoodlums as officers to threaten workers. The company was accused of using the powers of these local magnates to coerce the workers into withdrawing their demands. The workers demanded a reduction in the working day from 12 to 8 hours. Worker activists stressed the need to voice their protest to the state authorities, DESCON and the World Bank, which is funding the project. Angry protestors burnt down the DESCON office at Taunsa Barrage;

c) Further protests were recorded, as employees of the Gwadar Port Authority, who had been appointed by the President in November 2004, protested against the termination of their services and non-payment of salaries;

d) In Punjab, one million tenant farmers work on land owned by the provincial government. While the tenants have been cultivating the lands for over a century they have no legal title to it. Since June 2000, attempts have been made by the authorities to convert the tenure system, governed by various tenancy laws, to a contract system. Were this change to be implemented, most tenants would be evicted from the lands once the contract ends, an eventuality currently prohibited by the tenancy acts. Difficulties faced by the agricultural community are reported to be forcing up to 2.5 million people to the cities annually.

Elimination of discrimination against women and children

It is important to eliminate all forms of discrimination encountered by female workers and children. Reports by the UNICEF and ILO indicate that a very large proportion of the children are working in exploitative conditions. For example:

a) UNICEF reported that more than 3.6 million children under the age of 14 were working under hazardous and exploitative conditions in Pakistan;

b) An ILO Rapid Assessment on Rag Pickers/Scavengers revealed that there were roughly 89,500-106,500 children engaged in scavenging in five major cities of the country i.e. Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad;

c) Efforts are needed to promote greater gender equality. One such initiative is the programme launched by SDPI for Promoting the Elimination of Bonded Labour in Pakistan, which is expected to run from March 2007 to April 2010. The project will promote gender equality by mainstreaming gender concerns in all aspects of the project, from its policy level work to its field activities. The proposed project will collaborate very closely with the ongoing major Women’s Employment Concerns and Working Conditions Project.

Increase coverage under social protection

It is recommended that the coverage awarded under the social protection system be extended, as the current Labour 175 system is wrought with imperfections. For example, in July 2007 the minimum EOBI pension was modestly raised to Rs. 1,500. However, pensioners under the EOBI suffered great hardships attempting to collect their dues from different branches of banks. Most aged pensioners complained that they had to personally travel to banks as pensions were not given to their relatives. Furthermore, at many banks the counters for pension payments and utility bills were the same resulting in long queues that often lasted more than a day.

Elimination of unemployment

There is a need for greater job creation as unemployment has fuelled poverty leading to widespread dissatisfaction in the country. For example:

a) In Gujjarpura, Kot Khawaja Said, a jobless man killed his mother, brothers and then himself owing to conditions of poverty;

b) A father of four hanged himself to death after failing to find employment;

c) In Multan, a man driven to desperation by unemployment was arrested for putting his three sons up for sale;

d) Amongst protestors at a gas field of BHP Billiton two attempted self-immolation;

e) In Sindh locals protested against the policies of BHP Billiton, a multinational gas exploration company, for causing pollution, destroying infrastructure and depriving local people of jobs. In March thousands of activists protested against BHP for its failure to provide employment to locals;

f) Employment will also help in curbing illegal migrants. The largest number of people intercepted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) while attempting to leave the country illegally were residents of Gujrat district. Amongst provinces, the Punjab outdid all others in terms of the number of people deported to Pakistan by Iran and the Gulf countries after being caught travelling with fake documents. Over thirteen thousand people (13,092) were deported to Pakistan in 2005, 4,832 in 2006 and 1,507 by June 2007.

Skill improvement

There is a need to improve the skills of the labour force and enhance its employability. Some efforts are already being taken in this direction but much remains to be done. A Child Domestic Labour Centre was inaugurated in Islamabad in November 2007 for providing education and skill training to children working as domestic servants. Ten more centres were to be opened in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, targeting up to 1,500 children with an aim to providing them with alternative non-exploitative livelihoods.

Government, employers and labour unions

Finally, there is a need to strengthen both employers and workers organisations and facilitate their active engagement in development and implementation of the government’s economic and social policies. Currently, there appear to be few or no points of convergence between the labour unions and government, as numerous strikes have been organized by workers organisations. For example:

a) In November, Manzoor Ahmed, President of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign was arrested in Gujranwala for leading a demonstration. The demonstrators were brutally attacked by the police and several hundreds were taken into police custody. The Democratic Workers Union expressed concern over the forced retirement of employees of the Zarai Taraqqiati Bank Limited and urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the incident;

b) The Pakistan Workers Federation staged a large demonstration at Aabpara against price-hikes and unfavourable legislation in March;

c) Labour unions of powerhouses demanded the cancellation of the decision to privatise Jamshoro powerhouse. The Pakistan Wapda Hydro-Electric Central Labour Union was actively involved; protests included opposition to the leasing of Lakhra powerhouse;

d) The National Trade Union Federation demanded protection of workers’ rights and an increase in the minimum wage to Rs. 8,000;

e) In March labour organisations announced their participation in strikes against the police attack on Geo News State 176 ate of Human Rights in 2007

Television and The News offices;

f) Protests seeking the repeal of laws and amendments to laws that adversely affected labourers continued throughout the year;

g) The fishing community represented by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and the Pakistan Mahigeer Tehrik led a campaign against the Diamond Island Bar City project.


1. “Day labourers” and “contract labour” should be made permanent immediately and should be
granted the same facilities as permanent workers.

2. The third party system of production should be abolished.

3. Legal cases against union leaders should be immediately withdrawn.

4. Police patrols and checkpoints in labour areas should be withdrawn immediately.

5. Strict measures should be implemented against managers and police officers involved in anti-labour activities.


No comments: