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Making Bricks without Straw
Muslim Brick Kiln Employers Regularly Refuse to Pay Christian Employees Minimum Wage

01/23/09 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Christian brick-makers held a rally to demand owed wages after their local government refused to pay them at the rate required by Pakistani law. Their protest sheds light on what has become an accepted practice in Pakistan: employers promising Christian workers a certain wage but then refusing to honor their commitment. Muslim employees, on the other hand, receive the full promised pay.

The protest occurred on December 29 in Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan, in front of the Press Club. It was organized by a coalition of groups, including Christian members of the District Council, the Brick Kiln Workers Union (BKWU), the local Labor Party (LP) Chapter, and the Punjab National Workers Party (PNWP).

Christian representatives from the local government, Ayub Anjum, Baba Talib and Khadim Masih, said that the Pakistani government had fixed the wages of Brick Kiln Workers at 442 Pakistani Rupees (US $ 5.59) per 1,000 bricks. However, these representatives claimed that the District Administration had failed to pay the wages fixed by government.

Ferhan Mazher, the head of a Christian advocacy organization called ‘Rays of Development,’ told ICC that the majority of Christians in Pakistan work for Sewer Departments or Brick Kilns. As a result, Muslims use the word “Choohra” (Sweeper) as a pejorative term for Christians. In addition to the social stigma associated with these occupations, Christians are regularly forced into bonded labor and are paid much less than the minimum wage required by law. Mazher added that almost all Christian brick kiln workers live below the poverty line.

Please contact the Pakistani embassy in your country and ask them to take action to ensure that Christian employees receive fair treatment from their employers.

Pakistan Embassies:

USA: (202) 243-6500, [email protected]
Canada: (613) 238-7881, [email protected]
UK: 0870-005-6967, [email protected]