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Labour Day or Slave Day

Like all around the world in Pakistan 01st May is observed and celebrated as Labour Day marked by rallies, marches, processions, labor/worker union sessions and organized street demonstrations for paying tribute to the long struggle and sacrifices made for betterment and rights of labours and is symbolic, commemorating the Haymarket affair, which took place in Chicago, in the USA, in 1886, in which a labor riot for purpose of implementing eight hour work day was turned into massacre, resulting casualties have been estimated at four to eight dead and 30 to 40 injured.

Since then May 1 is observed as  a ceremonial exercise rather than to acknowledge the services and focus on for taking real steps towards dignity, prosperity, improvement in lifestyle with enforcement of laws in letter and spirit rather then doing cosmetic like things and futile exercises with no improve consequences for labor and working class.

But despite the extreme importance of labor for economy, it would not be awkward to rename Labour Day as Slave Day in Pakistan because after passing of so many labor days since the inception of Pakistan, the situation of labor is getting worse from bad and their is no one to put an end to it.

Even though Pakistan boasts over many pieces of laws and legislation regarding labour rights but they are limited to papers.

The conditions of labourers and employees in Pakistan portray living example in today’s world for slaves and the higher management as Pharaohs.

The higher management and owner of firms, industries, corporations are profiteering on sweat and blood of these laymen. Huge organization continuously record large profit in their annual financial statements and providing large perks, benefit and salaries increase to the top notch personnel but the lower staff struggle for subsistence and carry on their life from hand to mouth.

There is no distinction left in Pakistan between the blue collar and white collar jobs.

From workers operating textile to cement industries and office employees working in private sector like bank and news channel, whether a person is working in manufacturing, industrial, agricultural or service sector, employees and workers from small and medium to large enterprises, all suffers by the hand of management and by long slumber of government and their representative agencies and their negligence regarding the rights of labour, workmen and private organizations employees.

Workers at factory are toiling in unhealthy conditions without any safety precautions and measures that can risk their lives and in exchange they are paid by an amount which is unworthy and a joke for their hard work in a life threatening environment.

It would not be farce to call factories operating in Pakistan as “Factories of Death”. It is now common in news when we hear that a factory caught fire or its roof collapsed proclaiming lives of ten and hundreds of people. On 11 September 2012, in one day two factories in two different Pakistani cities of Karachi (Baldia Town) and Lahore caught fire.

The fires are considered to be the most deadly and worst industrial factory fires in Pakistan’s history, killing more than 300 people approximately and seriously injuring more than 600. But such type of instance are common in Pakistan, a country where their is no worth for ordinary people lives.

Office employees working in private organisation are spending extra hours beside their office hours without any compensation of their extra hours spend in work, private firms in the name of cost cutting are decreasing employees and increasing burden of work on already over burden employees, they are taking job of two and three person from one employee which is causing mental stress.

Over burden and long hours spend at work ending employees social life and resulting various physical and mental health problems. Our banking sector is an open example of such types of violation and mentally unhealthy conditions where after ending of official working hours branch banking staff sits late long hours even till night time on regular basis without being compensated for these extra hours.

The workers and employees are even denied their due annual and holiday leaves which is granted to them by law and even part of company policies.
Social and economical injustice against working class is prevailing at extreme in Pakistan.

An extreme example of the systemic exclusion and economical injustice of the voiceless from sharing the growth benefits in Pakistan is the recent case of ex-bank employees who have been fighting for fair pension in courts for over a decade.

The same bank whose CEO’s are earning in millions of rupees on monthly basis denied their ex-employees even a fair pension right.

Labor Day can initially trace it origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement in 18th century of England, which advocated eight hours for work. That’s why the typical work day is around 8 hours. But how did we come up with that? The answer is hidden in the tidings of the Industrial revolution.

In the late 18th century, when companies started to maximize the output of their factories by operating 24/7 nonstop. Now of course in order to put it to reality people have to work very long hours. In fact, 10-16 hour days were the norm in those day like today in Pakistan.
These incredibly long work days were not sustainable and soon a brave man called Robert Owen started a campaign to have people work no more than 8 hours per day. His slogan was “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” When will Pakistan also have such a brave man who can fight for the right of oppressed working class and labors.
It wasn’t until much later that Ford Motor Company actually implemented the 8 hour work day and changed the standards.
“One of the first businesses to implement this was the Ford Motor Company, in 1914, which not only cut the standard work day to eight hours, but also doubled their worker’s pay in the process. To the shock of many industries, this resulted in Ford’s productivity off of these same workers, but with fewer hours, actually increasing significantly and Ford’s profit margins doubled within two years. This encouraged other companies to adopt the shorter, eight hour work day as a standard for their employees.”

This is something developed countries and businesses operating in their jurisdictions, first learned a long time back in history. In the 19th century, when organized labor first compelled factory owners to limit workdays to eight hours, management was surprised to discover that output actually increased – and that expensive mistakes and accidents decreased. But despite living in 21st Century, this fact is still not realized by management of business in Pakistan.

In our working culture it is considered that long hour at works result in higher productivity but rather it is opposite working long hours decreases capacity of a person to work further and result in low productivity and efficiency in human resource.

For example, despite enjoying the shortest working hours among OECD member countries, Germany manages to maintain high productivity levels. In fact, the average German worker is reported to be 27% more productive than his or her British counterpart and indeed much more times higher from country like Pakistan.

Long hour works also result in Occupational Burnout which can be described as an experience of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, caused by long hours of continuous working that result in decrease in efficiency and productivity at work and also mental health problems for employees and in end also result in decrease profitability of firms and organization.

Some research indicates that burnout is associated with reduced job performance, coronary heart disease, and mental health problems. Chronic burnout is also associated with cognitive impairments such as memory and attention. Occupational burnout is also associated with absences, time missed from work, and thoughts of quitting.

For the study, researchers from University College London compiled data on the relationship between working hours and heart attack risk in over 600,000 workers, as well as similar data on stroke risk in over 500,000 workers. They found that those who worked more than 55 hours per week had a 13% greater risk of a heart attack, and were 33% more likely to suffer a stroke, compared with those who worked 35-40 hours per week.

Numerous studies by Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and her colleagues (as well as other studies) have found that overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems, including impaired sleep, depression, heavy drinking, diabetes, impaired memory, and heart disease.
Long working hours and over burden workmen in industries and office staff in organizations are facing high level of stress which also affect their family life.

High levels of stress can make the heart work harder than it normally does which under very rare circumstances, medical experts say, could potentially lead to death.

Here’s what to know about death from overwork. For this first we need to know what does stress do to the heart?

Stress affects everyone differently. But two types of emotional stress can impact the heart, according to Dr. Alan Yeung, the medical director at Stanford Cardiovascular Health. Acute stress usually occurs suddenly after a traumatic event and chronic stress is linked to unhealthy behaviors like working long hours, and these can cause an increase in blood pressure or cholesterol, Yeung said.

When a person faces high levels of either kind of stress, their heart rate and blood pressure may increase.

High levels of both types of stress can raise the risk for heart attacks and heart failure, mostly among people who already have heart problems like heart disease, Yeung said.

We are living in era in which civil liberty and human rights are considered basic element of society but we are still so far behind. The condition of animals in western nations are far better than the common people of our country and the animals enjoy far more rights, protection and safety than laymen in Pakistan.

Our government is satisfied by just declaring holiday on Labour Day and consider their task to uphold and implement rights of labor are fulfilled.
The nations who respected the contribution of their human resource in progress and protected their rights are the ones who are most developed and economically prosperous in the world.

The German labor ministry enacted a law in 2014, prohibiting managers from calling or emailing staff after work hours, except in an emergency.
France employees are getting the legal right to avoid work emails outside working hours.

The new law, which has been dubbed the “right to disconnect”, comes into force on 1 January, 2018. Companies with more than 50 workers will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails. France has a working week of 35 hours, in place since 2000. These laws are in order to protect employees who are expected to check and reply to their work emails out of hours are not being paid fairly for their overtime, and that the practice carries a risk of stress, burnout, sleep problems and relationship difficulties.

Following concerns about social problems, including a low birth rate and slowing productivity, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has led a push to reduce the country’s working hours and give workers the “right to rest”. After approving a bill to cut the maximum weekly work hours from 68 hours to a comparatively relaxed 52, the government has introduced an initiative to enforce these new rules.

Starting at the end of March, the government will roll out a “shutdown initiative” for its employees, to be implemented in three phases. For the first phase, employees computers were shut off at 8 p.m. on Fridays. In the second phase, computers were shut off by 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Friday of the month. And finally, in the third phase, due to begin in May, computers will turn off by 7 p.m. every Friday. Government employees in South Korea out-work its counterparts in other countries by close to 1,000 hours a year.

The government hopes that the new initiative will force its employees to begin leaving on time.

Japan, another country that suffers from chronic over-work, has similarly attempted to implement measures to cut back workers’ hours. After a woman committed suicide due to overwork, the government rolled out ‘Premium Fridays,’ which gives employees the option of leaving work early on the last Friday of the month.

In developed nations when the labours are enjoying advance rights such as “right to disconnect”, “right to rest”, “shutdown initiative” and “premium fridays”, in Pakistan, we do not even have “right to enjoy our basic rights, the right to be paid properly according to the work done, the right to be paid for our extra hours spend at work, the right to work in healthy and safe environment without any physical and mental health issues.”

Pakistan joined the international Labor Organization (ILO) in 1947. Until July 2004 it had ratified 34 ILO Conventions , of which 33 were in force for the country but in official records only.

Employees provide human resources to the organization. They are very important to the organization and company.

Therefore, the responsibilities of a business organization towards the employees should be fulfilled in proper manner because this will give a greater productivity to the organization.

The social responsibility of companies and organisation for their employees like Meaningful Work and Job Satisfaction, Fair Returns, Best Physical and Mental Atmosphere, Participation in the Management, Training, Promotion and Welfare Schemes, Recognition of Unions, Proper Personnel Policies, health and safety Measures, grievance procedure must be recognized. There is no such concepts present in Pakistan that’s why it need due deligence, strict and consistent oversight by the state and its machinery as to ensure all these essence of labor as necessitated and guaranteed by the constitution.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.