By Mansoor Ahmad
LAHORE: “I am convinced that this system is made for the rich and they will take away any opportunity that comes for the poor,” said Noor Elahi, who failed to find work for the second day running.
“While affluent families are shopping for Eid, my children will have no food today,” he said in a trembling voice.
Thousands of daily wagers like him remain out of work for many days a week owing to depressed economic conditions.
Abid Ali, a spinning mill worker, said he gets out of work whenever there is gas suspension.
He said the spinning mills will close for 10 days from Eid as the gas supplies will remain suspended.
“How can we even think of celebrating Eid when we see 10 days of starvation ahead?” he said, adding that more than 1.5 million daily wagers in the textile industry cannot afford the luxury of buying new clothes for their children. “We have no idea what to do when we have no work for 10 days,” he said.
Industrial workers are not the only victims of reduced earning. Masons, carpenters, painters and unskilled labourers remain in trouble most of the time.
More than 30 percent of all earners are daily wage workers, according to official statistics.
The decline in economic growth has reduced their chances of getting work.
Even those who are in work are in trouble because of lower wages and increasing rates of daily-used commodities.
“When food was in abundance, relatives used to share it. These days, however, not even relatives will help you,” said Mehmood Khan, an unskilled labourer.
He added that his relatives, too, are more worried about food than celebrating Eid. “Poverty has taken away our freedom and we live in depression and fear of what the future might bring,” he added.
Imam Bux, a seventy-year-old man who is suffering from multiple infections, said he considered himself garbage because no one needs him. “We are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. Everyone wants to get rid of us,” said. “If you don’t have money today, your disease will take you to your grave,” he said with a sigh.
Still he wishes that his son ignore his condition and use the money to buy some Eid gifts for his grand children.
Zeenat Ali, a woman in a poor area of the city, said she started stitching ladies dresses for the neighbourhood when her husband frequently failed to find job work. She regretted even this has neither fully covered the resource gap nor has improved her family relations. “The unemployed men are frustrated because they no longer can play the part of providers. They live on the money made by their wives, and feel humiliated because of this,” she said.
Another housewife Sheela Hasan said problems have affected family relationship. “The day my husband brings in money we are all right together. The day he stays at home (out of work) we are fighting constantly.”
She said that inability to buy Eid clothing for the children has further increased the tension at home.
Source: The News