Malakand KPK: Dargai’s industrial zone, a tale of exploitation

In the Dargai Industrial Zone, in various factories, the condition of the workers is no different from that of other workers in the country. The industrial zone houses factories producing steel, plastic, cooking oil, and cosmetics. These factories disregard labour laws and do not provide democratic rights to the workers.

A worker from a steel mill in the Dargai Industrial Zone said in an interview that the industrialists treat the workers like animals. The workers are paid much less than the government-mandated salary (32,000 Pak Rupees per month), which typically ranges between 12,000 and 14,000 Pak Rupees, and they work extremely long hours.

Similarly, in all factories of the Dargai Industrial Zone, there is a strict prohibition on forming unions. Workers do not discuss forming unions or protesting due to the fear of losing their jobs.

In cases of minor illnesses like cough and fever, workers are temporarily provided basic medication. However, in the event of a major illness or accident, no medical facilities are available. If a worker dies or becomes disabled during work, no compensation is offered. Additionally, speaking against the administration or owners, protesting, or raising legitimate demands can result in job termination.

In the whole industrial zone, as in Peshawar, forced labour is extracted. If there is a power outage for an hour or two, workers have to wait for work to resume without pay for those hours.

Almost all factory and mill workers face job insecurity. Most factories do not have canteens where affordable food and drinks can be bought. In factories with canteens, the food items sold are of substandard quality and not offered at discounted prices.

The PTUS has promised the struggling workers in the zone to highlight their issues. We aim to establish worker solidarity under the slogan “One’s pain is everyone’s pain!” by informing workers across the country and internationally about these issues.