KARACHI: Dedicating his human rights award he has received recently to labourers and the poor and oppressed segments of the country, singer and activist Jawad Ahmed pledged on Tuesday to continue working with workers’ rights bodies.
Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, Ahmed said that he was dedicating his human rights award to the country’s workers and the poor. He pledged to work for the provision of fundamental rights to downtrodden people.
Ahmed had received a human rights award on December 10 from the federal human rights ministry for his contribution in this field.
Discussing the issues of workers, the renowned vocalist said working people were surviving with great difficulty as they were not even paid the minimum wage.
He pointed out that in the industries and agricultural sector, a labourer is unable to earn Rs6,000 per month, much less than the minimum wage, and the majority of them were facing economic hardships. “The workers, who are the actually producers of goods, must need to be given their due rights.”
Ahmed said over 30 million children were out of schools in the country and health facilities were in shambles.
In December 2012, Ahmed had composed a song to pay tribute to the Baldia factory workers, who had died in a tragic fire that year.
The aim of the song is to create awareness on the rights of labourers to save them from such disasters in the future.
Karamat Ali, the director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, and Habibuddin Junaidi, the convener of the Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee, who accompanied Ahmed at the press conference, welcomed the initiation of the human rights award by the federal government and appreciated the efforts of Kamran Michael, the federal minister for human rights, for the initiative.
They also congratulated Ahmed and demanded that the government should start implementing all the international human rights conventions including the ILO Convention.
Ali said the government needed to ensure the provision of rights of associations, joining trade unions and collective bargaining rights to all the workers in the country.
“There is a serious situation when it comes to the exercising of two major fundamental rights – right to association and right to information,” Ali added.
He said the government had recently formulated the cyber crimes bill to restrict the right of expression, especially on social media. Similarly, he added, the collective bargaining right of the workers was restricted as only one percent labourers were registered under trade union movement.