Struggle for “employment rights” in Pak-occupied Jammu and Kashmir

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People in Pojk struggle for jobs
Ad-hoc Employees Protesting In POJK (Photo: News Intervention)

The rulers of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) have not been able to solve even one basic problem of the workers and youth, nor do they have any compunction in creating problems. They place the blame for all issues on government employees while failing to provide free education, healthcare, infrastructure development, and employment. The government is talking about depriving the government employees of all basic human rights through the Special Power Act. Instead of creating new employment opportunities, they are trying to dismiss employed youths to support unemployed youth.

The army-based government of 27 ministers is sacking thousands of temporary employees who have been working for many years in the name of merit in competitive exams. After November 30, the extension and salaries of temporary employees have been terminated, and hardworking individuals are being forcibly dismissed from employment.

Most appointments in POJK have been made on a temporary basis for a long time. The sword of unemployment hangs over the heads of the employees by making contracts of three and six months, preventing them from speaking up for their rights due to fear. Attempts are being made to terminate the contract employees after 15 to 20 years of service without pension and other benefits. After laborers have toiled for a lifetime for meager wages, when they are no longer able to work, they are left helpless to die of old age, disease, and hunger—sobbing and dying.

Law abolished

Three months after coming to power, the Tehreek-e-Insaf government in the region announced the abolition of the law on permanent ad-hoc employees in a cabinet meeting on October 28, as a result of which more than 4,000 employees could be fired. This ad-hoc act was passed by PML-N in the last year of his rule, according to which all temporary employees were made permanent, and ad-hoc appointments were banned. The Tehreek-e-Insaaf government apparently scrapped the act to restore merit, but the motives behind it were the same as those of previous occupying governments of POJK. By abolishing this act, the government took away the right of permanent employment from the employees, but there was no change in the policy of ad-hoc appointments; rather, the occupied government continued to make ad-hoc appointments of its favorite individuals.

The responsibility of governments in this region is not to provide employment to all citizens but to provide employment to a certain number of workers of their respective political parties. According to them, the one who is not related to the ruling party is not fit for the job; he should be dismissed from the job. The parasitic ruling elite of this region has completely failed to provide employment to the youth here.

The occupying government has not been able to provide employment to even 10 percent of the people. There is no manufacturing sector here. Services are the only sector that employs one lakh people. The region’s economy is largely dependent on foreign exchange remittances from overseas workers. There are 100,000 jobs in a population of 4.6 million, which all the members of the local elite try hard to co-adjust their close ones. They have no program to create new employment.

The question of distributive justice

It is said that ad hoc employees do not meet merit. If they do not meet merit, why were they employed for so long without unionization and job security? The policy of ad hoc appointments was made by the rulers in this assembly or by the employees? Those who clamor for merit forget that in a class system not every human being has equal opportunities for education. Basically the question is of a palace and a hut-dweller cannot compete, with different standards of food and education. The environment at home is different. The elimination of the class system is also necessary for the examination of transparent competition, where human beings are given equal opportunities to advance. Even if education alone is considered as the standard, the outdated education system is killing the creativity of students instead of harboring it.

In a capitalist system, workers have no choice but to sell their labor to survive. If labor is not sold and employment is not found, life cannot continue. Today, all avenues of life for the youth and workers of POJK are being blocked. Employment is a fundamental right of every human being, which is also recognized in the state constitution. Instead of providing employment, the promotion of merit restoration by taking away existing employment reflects the hypocritical thinking of the ruling class.

Noise of merit to cover up failure

The ruling class makes a noise of merit and ability to cover up its failure to provide employment to the unemployed youth, so as to convince the unemployed that it is not the system nor the state that is responsible for your unemployment. Already unemployed people are responsible for your unemployment.

Don’t those young people of this region live up to their merit who are selling their labor all over the world and burning in the hot desert of Arabia? Fed up with the humiliation of unemployment, those who try to get to Europe illegally, fall into the hands of human traffickers and lose their lives.

All the temporary employees have to reject the propaganda of the rulers that the temporary workers are not eligible for employment. They are not unqualified workers; it is the rulers who cannot provide employment for all the youth. 40 out of 4000 vacancies. If 1,000 unemployed youths are dealt with, it does not mean that 36,000 youths who have not found employment are ineligible. Permanent employment is a right, for which permanent employment is given to temporary employees and employment or unemployment allowance to unemployed youth. Struggle will have to be fought. If the temporary workers wait trusting relations with the rulers and the bureaucracy, defeat will be their destiny. Unity and protest of the workers is the strength by which the onslaught of the rulers can be resisted

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