Pakistán - Bonded and forced labour continues, kiln workers protest (2011)

Estimates state that between 750,000 and 900,000 people from 200,000 families work in Pakistan’s 11,000 brick kilns (bhatta). This number includes some 250,000 children, or around two-thirds of all working children in the Pakistan. Many children work alongside their families to pay off debts that are so much beyond their means that they will remain unpaid even after decades of continuous work. Employers advance money to workers who cannot leave until they repay the whole amount, and most workers are illiterate and do not know how much money is being repaid. The employers take advantage of this and also impose many «fines» on the workers. The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1992 defines this as bonded labour. Efforts to halt this practice have failed to make an impact, as only less than 6,000 bonded labourers have been freed and thousands remain working in appalling camps.

In September 2010, dozens of brick kiln labourers staged a protest in Islamabad. Their leader Inayatullah, president of All Pakistan Bhatta Labour Union, said that the minimum wage of PKR 517 for every 1000 prepared bricks was not prevalent in brick kilns in Punjab.

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