The Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers (PFBWW) has expressed its concerns over the health and safety of workers who continue to work on construction projects linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). While much of Pakistan is under a lockdown, some worksites continue to operate. The union identified the Suki Kinari and Karot Hydro projects as some of the sites which are lacking in safety precautions.
“Our members working on the CPEC projects are extremely concerned about the pandemic. There has been no COVID-19 testing on any of these sites, social distancing is next to impossible both on the job and in the labour camps and personal protective equipment is still inadequate ,” said PFBWW General Secretary Aslam Adil.
“Life for workers in the CPEC projects is already miserable, union leaders are persecuted, collective bargaining is denied, and employers regularly fail to provide even the minimum standards laid out under Pakistani law,” Adil added.
The construction industry is seen by the government as one of Pakistan’s main roads to post-crisis economic recovery. Recently, the government has announced a package of tax relief, financial support and regulatory assistance for the construction industry.
However, Adil raised concern that the government has failed to announce any measures that would safeguard workers’ rights to a safe working environment and decent conditions.
“It is the workers who have built this country, and it is the workers who will help it recover. But we cannot do it without our fundamental rights protected,” Adil said.