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> Sindh MPAs should focus on Labour Issues

March 08, 2007
Hotel Marriat Karachi


Karachi, March 08; The MPAs and parties represented in the Sindh Provincial Assembly need to play an active role to understand, highlight and address issues relating to labour in the province. The Assembly has the powers to pass legislation, amend existing laws as well as review the application of existing laws by the executive, although it usually resorts to simply passing resolutions for the attention of the central government. These views were expressed by various speakers at the PILDAT Briefing Session for Sindh MPAs on the topic of Understanding Labour Issues in Pakistan.


In the first session, Dr. Ali Ercelan, Acting Director Pakistan Institute for Labour Education & Research (PILER) presented an overview of the Labour Policy and the State of Labour in Pakistan. Reviewing various policies of the government Dr. Ercelan said that the government had not verified various ILO conventions. Many multinationals were walking out of the country due to issues relating to child labour. There are no labour laws for women working from home. Union formation laws have also been made stricter, he said


Talking on the subject of Major Labour Issues in Pakistan and the Need for a Legislative Agenda on Labour, Mr. Ahsan Ullah Khan, Chairman WEBCOP said that growth in economy depends on the prosperity of the employer and the employee but whereas the growth rate in the country has increased up to 80%, the employment rate is stagnant. The assemblies have to play their roles of legislation and oversight and even the minimum wages rate of Rs. 4000 is not being paid to workers by many industries. Legislative committees need to hold public hearings involving labour representatives to better understand their issues. Mr. Zahoor Awan, General Secretary Pakistan Workers Federation said that privatisation is fine in theory but it is not being carried out in a transparent manner by the government. Labourers are expected to bribe to even get their legal and lawful rights in the country. Mr. Muhammad Ahmad, Chairman Pakistan Workers Federation believed that a more detailed-oriented focus of MPAs and legislators was required to understand and address labour issues. Instead of creating more favourable situation for labour unions and organisations, restrictions and bans are being imposed on labour unions in the country, especially in the province of Sindh.


MPAs and Members of Youth Parliament represented on the occasion engaged in an exchange of views over the topic. The entire question of performance of assemblies was brought under discussion by MPAs as well whereas the ruling-party MPAs defended their performance while the opposition MPAs and members from the civil society and media generally expressed their dissatisfaction on the role of provincial legislators in raising and addressing issues of public concern and welfare including those of labour issues.


In concluding the session, Mr. Hameedullah, MPA and Chairman Standing Committee on Labour as chair of the session said that the government minister should have been present to give government perspective. He criticised the procedure and various examples of privatisation in the country. He said that creation and affiliation of unions was part of fundamental of rights of the people of Pakistan