Corona pushed peasants to work as bonded labour
HYDERABAD: Hari Welfare Association (HWA) Sindh has expressed its deep concerns for the non-implementation of the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition Act (SBLSAA) of 2015 especially in the pandemic of COVID-19 and lockdown situation.
While speaking to the media persons during a press conference, HWA’s President Akram Ali Khaskheli grieved that lack of economic activities in rural and semi-urban areas of Sindh have pushed workers to become slaves and bonded labourers. He said that in the given conditions, workers and peasants are going back to landlords to work on landlords’ conditions.
The president said that many worker and peasant families migrate to different districts for livelihoods and often returned to their homes with somehow meager resources but the current conditions have brought an end to their seasonal migratory movement for livelihoods, and have also pushed them to work for the landlords on nominal wages and shares. Khaskheli said that ineffective measures of the government to stop and control the attack of locust in Sindh have also rendered peasants and workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The attach of the insect will cause low production of wheat and other crops, meaning extremely low share to the peasants, which would results in serious food insecurity, extremely poverty and hunger in rural areas, he added.
Khaskheli said that to address the issue of slavery, the government should utilize the forum of district vigilance committees given in the SBLSAA, which should monitor the state of peasants/labourers and report to the concerned authorities to take immediate measures. However, out of 29 districts, only in seven districts, the DVCs have been notified, which are dysfunctional and ineffective to play role to address the menace of bonded labour in the districts. The governments at provincial level and district levels do not pay attention; thus, do not allocate any funds for its formation and activation of the DVCs.
Khaskheli urged the government of Sindh to notify DVCs in the remaining districts and allocate funds for all the DVCs to ensure monitoring of the SBLSAA and rehabilitation of the released bonded labourers.
Khaskheli also urged that besides district labour inspectors, the government should appoint peasant inspectors for the monitoring of the Sindh Tenancy Act of 1950 and the SBLSAA. He added that peasants should be compensated for their loss in result of locust’ attach on their crops.