Leaders of trade unions and labour associations lamented on Tuesday that provincial labour adviser Saeed Ghani, on court orders, had been restrained by the government from exercising any executive authority in the affairs of the Sindh Employees’ Social Security Institution (SESSI).


Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club, they demanded that the Sindh government should form a judicial commission to probe into the corruption, mismanagement and malpractices in the provincial labour department and its affiliated bodies, especially in the SESSI.


The labour leaders included Karamat Ali, the secretary of National Labour Council, Shafiq Ghauri, the president of the Sindh Labour Federation, Habibuddin Junadi, the convener of the Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee, Shaukat Ali of the All Pakistan Trade Union Congress, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation, Latif Mughal of the People’s Labour Bureau, Mohsin Raza of the KWSB Workers Union, Jalil Shah of the KPT Workers Union, Jafar Khan of the Muttahida Labour Federation, Zehra Khan of the Home-based Workers Network, Manzoor Razi of the Railway Workers Unions, Qamrul Hassan of the IUF and Zafar Abbase of the SESSI Employees Union.


They said labour institutions including the SESSI and the Sindh Workers Welfare Board are plagued with corruption and a group of bureaucracy had created a cartel to swindle the funds allocated for the welfare of workers.


“We support the measures taken by Saeed Ghani for the improvement of the functioning of provincial labour organisations and demand that government should immediately form a judicial commission to fix responsibilities so that severe action can be taken against the corrupt officers,” said Karamat Ali.


He added that after Ghani appointment as the labour adviser, there was visible improvement in the performance of SESSI-run hospitals and other institutions.


“But a powerful group of bureaucrats in the department tried hard to stop him.”


Counting the achievements since Ghani took charge, Ali said the Sindh labour department was able to vacate 1,000 flats at Labour Square in Gulshan-e-Maymar and there were visible savings in the medical expenses at the SESSI health facilities in SITE and Landhi.


Besides, the Sindh government has approved a home-based workers policy, the only one in the country.


Ali also pointed out that a tri-partite labour conference was going to be held in Sindh in January 2017. Holding tri-partite labour conference is a requirement under the International Labour Organisation Convention signed by Pakistan.  Sindh is the first province which is holding a tri-partite labour conference after several years.


“All that was possible because of Senator Saeed Ghani’s personal interest in curbing corruption in the labour department,” Ali maintained.


Shafiq Ghauri pointed out that there were serious cases of embezzlement in the provincial labour department including SESSI and SWWB.


“There was an incident where the anti-corruption department had unearthed a corruption worth Rs289.3 million in SESSI and it was decided to register an FIR against the officers concerned. But so far no action has been taken in that case,” he added.


Ghauri said he had written a letter on July 18, 2016 to the director general of the Commercial Audit Sindh and pointed out that for the last 20 years, no audit had been held in SESSI by a reputable audit firm and there was no standard operation procedure for the purchase of medicines.


Ghauri said an internal audit report had pointed out grave financial irregularities in the purchase of medicines worth Rs 215 million in Kalsoom Valika Social Security Hospital in SITE. He said some fake labour leaders were going to courts against Ghani to stop the investigation into corruption.


Habibuddin Junadi said there was a need for bringing transparency in all departments of the provincial government.

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