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Labor Day rally in Karachi calls for living wage and improved worker conditions

Karachi, Participants in a large Labor Day rally in Karachi on Wednesday voiced strong criticisms of both government and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies, which they described as detrimental to workers. The rally, marking the 138th anniversary of International Labor Day, drew a significant turnout, including women, transgender individuals, and children. The demonstrators demanded a shift from a minimum to a living wage, among other extensive labor reforms.

According to International Monetary Fund, the event was organized by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and the Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF). The rally proceeded from Regal Chowk to the Karachi Press Club, with leaders like Comrade Zehra Khan of the HBWWF and Comrade Gul Rehman of the NTUF leading the charge. The speakers at the rally outlined a comprehensive set of demands aimed at improving the livelihood and rights of workers across Pakistan. These demands included a significant increase in the minimum wage, registration of all workers with social security institutions, and the establishment of harassment-free workplaces.

The demonstrators also expressed solidarity with global movements, such as the plight of Palestinian people and protesting students at U.S. universities. Speakers highlighted the persistent struggle of workers in Pakistan, who despite contributing significantly to the national production, face long working hours, lack of formal employment contracts, and inadequate social security.

NTUF’s Nasir Mansoor emphasized the historical significance of May Day, pointing out that workers globally are still fighting for basic rights, 138 years after the first labor movement. The rally also addressed the adverse effects of privatization and IMF policies on the common people, with calls for comprehensive agricultural reforms and equitable land distribution.

The rally concluded with a united call for structural changes, including the implementation of effective labor laws, the provision of essential public services like healthcare and education, and measures to address environmental and climate challenges.