Needing a holistic social security mechanism for factory workers

Needing a holistic social security mechanism for factory workers

By Iftikhar Ahmed

FAISALABAD, Mar 19 (APP): Since the world economies are facing serious crunch and price hike with Pakistan also not an exception, the backbone of our economy, the industrial workers are in dire need for a holistic social security system to ensure their survival.

As different departments are working in this sector and the factory workers have to run pillar to post for getting their in-service and post retirement dividends. This is an extra fatigue adding to their hardships.

Although, the federal and the provincial governments have taken different measures to protect interests of factory workers, yet after devolution of the Labor Department after 18th amendment, the situation had become complicated.

In present scenario, social security department, workers’ welfare fund, labor department and EOBI are working for the same purpose but under different institutions.

According to a spokesman of Directorate of Social Security Faisalabad, there are more than 20,000 establishments in Faisalabad with the district divided into three zones; Eastern, Western and Northern Zones to facilitate the workers.

“More than 150,000 workers were secured in Faisalabad while out of total establishments, about 9000 units were closed and more than 100 units defaulted to social security department,” he claimed.

Contesting the department claims, the factory owners claim that closing 50% units was not their fault as they were compelled to do this due to increasing cost of doing business.

They were also critical of policies and efficiency of the social security department as they claimed to pay a huge amount as contribution for welfare of their workers and demanded fair functioning of the department.

“It is worrisome that 50% units had to be closed down leaving thousands of workers jobless with remaining units working at 40% capacity,” said President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Dr Khurram Tariq.

“Scores of factory workers await facilities like educational scholarship, death and marriage grants since 2019 despite contribution by the employers,” Dr Khurram claimed. “Therefore, the social security department and workers’ welfare fund must step forward to resolve this issue.”

The directorates of social security are working in all major cities of the Punjab including Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Sheikhupura, Multan, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffar Garh, Bahawal Pur, Sialkot, Rahim Yar Khan, Gujranwala and Gujrat.

Any factory worker registered with Punjab Employees Social Security Institute (PESSI) is called secured worker and he and his family members are entitled to sickness, injury, Iddat, maternity and gratuity benefits besides disablement pension, artificial limbs, funeral grant and free education for children.

But Muhammad Akram, a secured factory worker has claimed delayed provision of medicines for workers from social security hospital Faisalabad as he raised questions on capacity of the department.

“Around 60% of the establishments are still uncovered and their owners are avoiding payment of contribution on different excuses,” he claimed.

Akram suggested that contribution paid by employers of Faisalabad, must be spent on welfare of workers in this area. “Adopting this mechanism would ensure legitimate financial benefits to the workers of respective regions and districts.”

He also proposed to conduct a survey on the pattern of digital census to devise a system with spatial imaging and ensuring registration of 100 percent industrial establishments. “It will provide a true picture of industrial establishments enabling the department to register real number of workers through door-to-door survey.”

He demanded future planning on the basis of an authentic data ensuring that every registered factory worker gets all facilities enshrined in the Constitution. “Workers related policies must be framed on tripartite basis by involving employees, employers and the government functionaries.”

Amidst the claims and demands of the employers and the employees, Admin Officer Directorate of Social Security Faisalabad (East) Zulqarnain Malhi claims that the social security department provides full health cover and financial benefits to secured workers besides ensuring full safety at workplace.

After registration, he said, the secured worker through his employers contributes 6% of his wages and in return, the social security department provides him social security cover including the health facility.

“Presently, 22 social security hospitals are working in Punjab including four hospitals in Lahore and three in Faisalabad,” he said. “If required facility is not available at these hospitals, it is arranged at other hospitals locally or sending critical patients abroad if necessary and PESSI bears entire expenditures.”

He said complete treatment for cardiac patients with the facility of bypass surgery, angiography, angioplasty etc as well as CT scan and nuclear block facilities are available at Rehmatul-Lil-Alameen Institute of Cardiology and Social Security Teaching Hospital in Lahore.

Social Security Hospital Islamabad provides diagnosis and complete treatment of breast cancer while treatment of kidney diseases, gastroenteritis, hepatitis, dengue fever diagnosis are also available at respective Social Security Hospitals.

“We also provide prostheses and spectacles to secured workers and their families besides facility of modern laboratories and physiotherapy centers, ambulance service and dispensaries,” he said. “PESSI also arranges free education and every year nine scholarships are provided to children of secured workers at medical colleges affiliated to Social Security Hospitals.”

Now whatever the claims of stakeholders, it is prime responsibility of the concerned departments to ensure maximum possible benefits to factory making them to sail through this era of economic turmoil.

Sponsored Ad