A Grand Rally was organized was organized on 10 of December 2012 by SPARC with the support of ActionAid and European Union to mark international Human Rights Day in connection with International Anti-Slavery Day in which hundreds of freed bonded laborers, workers, peasants, civil society Activists, members of bar association, politicians and intellectuals participated. The participants carrying hand bills of freedom from bondage, implementation of bonded labor system abolition act 1992, minimum wages and other labor right slogans.
Addressing the Rally the Civil society Activists urged the government to establish a separate ministry for the abolition of bonded labor, provide social security cards to all laborers, particularly over 200,000 laborers working in brick kiln sector and create a fund to rehabilitate over 5,700 liberated laborers and peasants in Sindh. They demanded from the government to establish school for 5000 children in 150 Brick Kilns at Tando Haider.
An entire family working in a brick kiln was paid only Rs280 for making 1,000 bricks a day, they said, adding the Sindh minimum wage board should fix at least Rs1,000 wages for preparing 1,000 bricks. They urged print and electronic media to visit brick kilns and show real face of poverty to the government. SPARC had set up 10 model brick kilns in Tando Haider equipped with lavatories and the government should follow its model in other brick kilns to save laborers from slavery, they said.
Addressing the Rally Kashif Bajeer National Manager SPARC said that Social security card is the constitutional Right of every Laborer but none of 0.2 Million brick kiln workers have been given social security card. He expressed his deep concern over no initiatives by the government for the solution of problems faced by laborers, whereas the Legal Aid Service Unit established in Sindh to address the issues and grievances has been closed.
While addressing the rally Punhal Sariyo demanded of the government of Sindh to amend, adopt and implement bonded labor system abolition act 1992 with letter and spirit to curb injustice done to laborers in the province. He pointed out that today common laborers get 1000 per day whereas the entire family working on the brick kiln gets just 380 for thousand brick per day. He demanded that Sindh minimum wage board should issue notice for brick worker and 1000 be fixed for one thousand bricks.
Addressing the Rally the Regional Head of SPO, Ghulam Mustafa Balouch said that laws are clear that any establishment having more than 5 employees will be registered with social security department whereas there are more than 150 workers at each and every brick kiln, no one is ready to raise voice for their rights. He asked the print and electronic media journalist to play their role and visit the brick sector, see their plight with the eye of camera, show the government the real face of poverty.
Speaking at the rally Mr. Mehboob Abro Ex-Nazim Qasimabad and the representative of Pakistan People’s Party said that the increase in bonded labor in our society is because of poverty, hunger and unemployment. The laborers are unable to pay their debt and are paying their loan back since their forefather. Today bonded laborers are being freed through courts but government has no plan for their rehabilitation or any other help.
Hundreds of workers, freed bonded laborers, civil society activists and politicians participated and raised the voice for labor rights, implementation of labor laws and demanded social security card for kiln workers. The Rally got plenty of news coverage and more than 16 newspapers including Dawn, Express Tribune, Business Recorder, Lahore Times, Kawish, Ibrat, Jang and others. All the regional TV channels prepared news stories and on aired in their local bulletin. ARY News and SAMA news covered the rally specially, prepared news stories and aired in their national bulletin.
Through the grand rally the issue of bonded laborers, brick kiln workers, social security card, and implementation of labor related laws were highlighted effectively.