Around 200 workers at the Suki Kinari hydro power construction site In Northern Pakistan went on strike and blocked traffic in the nearby town of Kaghan Naran to demand their employer, China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), to comply with wage laws during the holy month of Ramadan.
The strike forced CGGC to pay 50 percent of the wages it owed to the workers.
“The Pakistani government declared that workers who work during the Holy month are legally entitled for double pay, including doubling of overtime rates. However, CGGC has refused to comply with their legal responsibility,” said Aslam Adil, General Secretary of the Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers (PFBWW).
“It is not acceptable for international contractors to come to Pakistan and refuse to obey the law of the land. We are calling on Pakistani authorities to take steps to bring CGGC’s behaviour in line with the law and to respect workers’ rights to freedom of association.”
While much of Pakistan has been in a state of lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis, construction projects have continued operating. Many workers have raised concerns about their health, particularly CGGC workers, who said that their company has limited commitment to physical distancing and adequate safety materials.
CGGC has a controversial reputation in Pakistan. In 2017, BWI and PFBWW (along with the Pakistan Workers’ Federation) filed a complaint before the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association over the Neelam Jhelum hydro construction project.