Buying & Selling

Pharma industry workers face worst exploitation in Pakistan 

Karachi, January 12, 2022 (PPI-OT):Workers of pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan face the worst exploitation and industry owners despite earning billions of rupees are not ready to give basic labour rights to these workers, said labour leaders, addressing a press conference arranged by National Trade Unions Federation (NTUF) and workers of pharmaceutical industry at the Karachi Pakistan Club (KPC) here Wednesday.

They said the pharma industry was amongst the sectors that made the most profits during the Coronavirus pandemic. They also got huge incentives and benefits from the government. However, the workers of this sector faced the worst working condition. They said in Pakistan the prices of medicines are hiked by 311 percent and more increase in expected in them in the coming mini-budget.

Presently, in Pakistan there are more than 700 pharmaceutical companies that are also exporting drugs to more than 60 other countries. Their annual sale in more than Rs560 billion and it is increased at the rate if 15percent per annum. More than 100000 workers are directly related and one million people indirectly related to this sector. However, the workers of this sector are deprived of their basic rights including making their trade unions.

They said as per local and international laws workers of all categories have the right of making their labour unions and the Supreme Court has also ratified it, but still the workers of the pharma sector are deprived of this right. They said that the nature of jobs in the pharma sector is that of permanent work, but 90 percent of its workforce is compelled to work on temporary basis.

The illegal contract labour system is present in almost all factories and medicines are made in unhygienic conditions that is an anti-human act. These factories are virtual sweat shops. Their production process is being outsourced in dangerous COVID conditions to the places that are utterly unhygienic. It posses threats to not only workers but the users of these products also.

The majority of workers in the pharma sector is not issued social security and EOBI cards. The workers contribution to SESSI and EOBI is deposited through contractors so as that relation to industry could not be established. They said that the Supreme Court has already decided that all industries related to life-saving sector would hire permanent employees, but the verdicts of the court are not being implemented.

Instead of regularization of the jobs of workers they are being appointed on temporary basis under the title of production support officers (PSOs) and hence deprived of their due rights. The institutions like Social Security, EOBI and workers welfare board have become the dens of corruption. They said the workers welfare board is badly marred with corruption, where dowry grant, education scholarship and even death grant is not issued without taking bribes.

They said that houses of the workers welfare board were allotted in 2013 but despite passage of nine years their possession is yet to be given to the workers. These houses are not liveable as they have no water, power and gas facilities. They said that in Sindh law is enacted about five percent workers participation fund, but the other provinces do not have such a law. They said under this law a huge amount is deposited with the registrar Sindh High Court, but these funds are not yet distributed among the workers.

They said that saving Sindh, in other provinces the dowry grant is increased from Rs100000 to Rs200000; death grant from Rs500000 to Rs600000 and educational scholarship, money for shoes and pocket money is doubled. They asked that the workers of Sindh should also be given these facilities. On the occasion the union of pharma sector workers announced to wage a struggle from the platform of NTUF for their rights on in this regard on February 15 an All Pakistan Pharma Workers Conference would be organised to launch a movement for realization of their rights.

They demanded that the workers of the pharmaceutical industry should be given the right to make their labour unions. Contact labour system should be ended and as per the decision of the Supreme Court the workers of life saving sector should be made permanent. The contributions of EOBI and social security should be recovered from the companies instead of contractors and cards in the name of workers should be issued. Illegal practice of appointing temporary workers in the name of PSOs should be stopped. Hygiene condition in pharmaceutical industry should be improved and outsourcing of their products should be stopped.

The workers should be given insurance and SESSI cards. Bribery in Workers Welfare Fund should be stopped; otherwise, the workers would besiege the offices of the Board. The registrar of SHC should distribute the amount of five percent workers participation amongst the workers. The government of Sindh like other provinces should increase the funds of dowry, death grants and educational scholarship. The houses of workers should be given the facilities of water, power and gas and their possession should be given to the allottees.

Those spoke included Nasir Mansoor NTUF, Rafiq Baloch NTUF, Manzoor Ahmed Martin Dow Market Workers Union (CBA), Bakht Zameen Hilex Pharma Employees Union (CBA), Farman Khan Asprin Pharma Workman Union, Muhammad Kashif Khan Glaxco Smith Line Workers Union, Fazal-e-Wahab OBS Pakistan Employees Union (CBA), Muhammad Bachal Searl Employees Union, Sher Ali Avient Pakistan Employees Union, Zahir Shah Essity Employees Union, Nazar Abbas Opal Employees Union, Gul Rehman Labour Rights Movement, and Riaz Abbasi SITE Labour Forum.

For more information, contact:
Deputy General Secretary,
National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF)
R-16, Al Hilal Society Block- IV-V, KDA Scheme 7,
Karachi, Pakistan
Tel: +92-21-37075324
Fax: +92-21-34142149
Cell: +92-300-3587211