Union leaders said Wednesday that workers in Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry face the worst exploitation and that industry owners, despite earning billions of rupees, are unwilling to grant basic rights from work to workers.
Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, organized by the National Federation of Trade Unions (NTUF), they said that the pharmaceutical industry was among the sectors that made the most profits during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pharmaceutical companies have also won huge incentives and benefits from the government, but their workers face the worst working conditions, they said. The launch of a campaign for the rights of workers in the pharmaceutical industry was announced on this occasion by the leaders of the NTUF Nasir Mansoor and Rafiq Baloch, representatives of the trade unions of employees of pharmaceutical companies, including Manzoor Ahmed, Bakht Zameen Farman Khan, Muhammad Kashif Khan and Fazal-e-Wahab. To this end, it was decided that a national conference of pharmacy workers would be held on February 15.
They said drug prices had risen by 311% in Pakistan and further price increases were expected in the next mini-budget. At present, in Pakistan, there are more than 700 pharmaceutical companies which also export drugs to more than 60 countries, they said, adding that their annual sales amount to more than 560 billion rupees and that They were increasing at the rate of 15% per year.
“More than 100,000 workers were directly linked and a million people indirectly linked to this sector. However, workers in this sector are deprived of their basic rights, including the right to unionize,” said a union leader.
Union leaders said that according to local and international laws, workers of all categories have the right to form their unions and the Supreme Court has also ratified it, but workers in the pharmaceutical sector are still deprived of this right. right.
They said the nature of jobs in the pharmaceutical sector was that of permanent work, but 90% of its workforce was forced to work on a temporary basis. The illegal contract labor system was present in almost all the factories and the drugs were produced in unsanitary conditions, which was an anti-human act, they pointed out.
“These factories are virtual sweatshops. Their production process is outsourced under unsafe Covid conditions to totally unsanitary locations. This poses a threat not only to the workers, but also to the users of these products,” the union leaders said in a statement.
The majority of workers in the pharmaceutical sector have not received social security and EOBI cards, the contribution of workers to SESSI and EOBI has been deposited through entrepreneurs so that their relationship with the industry does not could not be established, they said.
They said the Supreme Court had already ruled that all industries related to the survival industry would hire permanent employees, but the court verdicts were not enforced.
Instead of regularizing the jobs of the workers, they were appointed on a temporary basis under the title of production support agents and therefore deprived of their rights. Institutions such as EOBI, SESSI and the workers’ welfare council had become dens of corruption, they alleged.
They demanded that workers in the pharmaceutical industry have the right to form their unions, that the contract labor system be abolished and that workers in the vital sector be made permanent according to the decision of the supreme court.
EOBI and social security contributions should be recovered from companies rather than contractors, and cards in the name of workers should be issued and the illegal practice of appointing temporary workers in the name of PSOs should be stopped , they said.