Punjab Mazdoor Card to launch in Nov: What benefits will it have for minimum wage earners?

Here's everything that we know so far.

Punjab Mazdoor Card

The Punjab Mazdoor Card is expected to be launched by November and is already being lauded as a ‘game-changer for Punjab’s minimum wage earners.’

The scheme was announced on the 30th of September by the Punjab CM Usman Buzdar. Regarding the scheme, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Social Security Commissioner, Syed Bilal Haider, and the Bank of Punjab representatives.

Mazdoor Card

The social security commissioner said that for the first time in the history of Punjab, the bank accounts of nearly 1.1 million workers would be opened. Beneficiaries can avail multiple benefits, including for health and finances, all through the use of the Mazdoor Card.

Haider added, “Workers will get a 5% to 30% discount on purchases at more than 130 commercial outlets. Through the card, adequate monitoring of the monthly minimum wage of the workers will be guaranteed. 

He further went on to say, “In the future, the idea is to link the Mazdoor Card to the Sehat Sahulat Card as several other government loan schemes.”

But for labor rights activists and those who work on labor issues, this scheme is not a novel concept.

The Labour Secretary of the left-wing Haqooq-e-Khalq Movement, Murtaza Bajwa, said, “This is not the first time that the government has launched such a charity project for minimum wage earners.”

Referring to the PTI’s COVID-19 relief package, allocated to the poorest of the poor under the Ehsas Program, Bajwa alleged that he witnessed rampant corruption during the registration process of these schemes.

“I have witnessed so many people being refused solely on the basis that they did not have enough money to bribe the government officials in charge of registrations,” Bajwa claimed. 

“Some people would come to our neighborhood and charge PKR 2000 to PKR 3000 from poor families as commission for registering them for the little sum promised by the government,” he said. 

Following this, many people who deserved the help were left out. However, many undeserving people who could give away money to corrupt government officials received multiple payments at times.

Not addressing the fundamental issue   

The labor rights activist, researcher, and Assistant Professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Dr. Sayed Azeem, broadly agreed with the assertions made by Bajwa.

Azeem said the current and even previous governments want to achieve labor security under pro-business policy frameworks, which is contradictory.

Both Azeem and Bajwa maintain that the real solution to the problems of the working class is not ‘charity, but ‘labor empowerment’ so that people can stand up for their rights already given to them by the Constitution of Pakistan.

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