Land reforms, social security for all demanded

General Karachi

Karachi: Academicians, labour leaders and civil society activists on Friday demanded land reforms, social security for all citizens, education to all children as ensured under Article 25-A of the Constitution and implementation of all the existing labour laws in Pakistan.

These demands came at the end of a lectures programme “The Agenda of a Socially Fair System: Reviewing the Stakes” by Prof. Jan Breman and Dr. Zafar Shaheed organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at a local hotel on Friday.

Prof. Jan Breman of the University of Amsterdam and Fellow of the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research said he has done a number of researches on the issues of labouring poor in India and China. The agriculture workers both in India and Pakistan are forced to migrate to urban areas because they did not have ownership of the lands in their villages. In Pakistan if the land reforms are not introduced the development cannot take place, he added.

Prof. Breman pointed out that during his research study in Indian state Gujrat he found that aged labour, widows and handicapped persons were the most vulnerable sections of the society, who were living a life as destitute. In Pakistan he said the situation is almost the same.

The capitalists should pay for the destitute workers. Why only state is looked at for social protection, he asked. Prof. Breman said the difference between the West and South is in the West the state approaches the people to provide social security to them at the doorstep, but in the South people approach the state for social security, but the state is always unfavourable and suspicion.

“Living in poverty is living in isolation,” said adding that in Gujrat state of India a labour son is unable to take care of his parents because he has to take care of his children. He said poverty is also increasing in Europe.

In his lecture on inequalities former Director of International Labour Organizatio Dr. Zafar Shaheed said the ILO’s 2008 report on the world of work income inequalities in the Age of Financial Globalization found that the wage or labour share of income has declined in three-quarters of the countries covered.

The fastest decline occurred in Latin America, by over 13 percent in the period from 1993 to 2002. In advanced economies and in Asia, it fell by 9 percent, respectively between 1980-2005 and 1985-2003.

The richest 18,000 people in Pakistan have an average income of USD 72,700 per capita, which is about 70 times the overall per capita income of US$1,050 for the population as whole.

He said globally, 20 percent of the world’s population commands 70 percent of the global wealth (while 80 percent of people have no social protection). Between 1990 and 2006, in 24 out of the 32 countries for which data was analyzed, wage growth lagged behind productivity growth. In the decade between 1990 and 2000, more than two-thirds of the 85 countries analyzed experienced an increase in income inequality, measured by changes in the Gini index.

He said economic inequality reduces distributive efficiency within society. It reduces the sum total of personal utility, due to the decreasing marginal utility of wealth. The marginal utility of wealth is lowest among the richest, because they spend the extra dollar on luxury, while the poor spend it on enhanced welfare; therefore, the higher the equality in society, the higher the aggregate utility of its wealth.

The social contract has failed to deliver everywhere, after a move forward during the post WWII days in Western Europe with the short-lived experiment of the social welfare state and that of communism or centrally planned state capitalism in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, with its various social benefits.

In his welcome remarks, Karamat Ali of PILER said the workers in Pakistan are devoid of social protection. A very little amount in Pakistan is spent on social sectors, he added.

Noted singer Jawwad Ahmed sang a song he has recently made for PILER on the incident of factory fire in Baldia colony of Karachi.