KARACHI - Leaders of trade unions on Wednesday appealed to Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan governments to hold their respective provincial tripartite labour conferences because this was mandatory under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 144.

Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC), Karamat Ali, Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER); Habibuddin Junaidi, Convener, Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee (SLSC); Liaqat Sahi (Democratic Labour Union of State Bank); Shaikh Majeed and others welcomed the announcement by Sindh government to hold tripartite labour conference in next month.

“After 18th Amendment in the constitution, labour has become a provincial subject, but unfortunately no provincial government has held provincial tripartite conference since then, which is mandatory consultative process for new legislations and labour policies. The National Labour Conference (NLC), in collaboration with Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) held a two-day Sindh Labour Conference at Piler Centre Karachi on August 12 and 13 to receive recommendations for the next provincial tripartite labour conference, said Karamat Ali.

The conference was inaugurated by Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, whereas National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) Chairman Justice (r.) Ali Nawaz Chowhan was the chief guest on August 12, 2017.

Department of Labour and Human Resource Secretary Abdur Rasheed Solangi; All Pakistan Workers Confederation General Secretary Khurshid Ahmed; President of Supreme Court Bar Association Rasheed A. Razvi, Sindh Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice (r) Majida Razvi, Member of NCHR Anis Haroon, Convener of NLC Abdul Latif Nizamani and others were the main speakers.

Karamat Ali said representatives of over 50 trade unions from across Sindh attended the conference.

On the second day, the participants were divided into six groups to give recommendations for the next tripartite labour conference. The recommendations included provision of universal social security facilities to all citizens. For this purpose they recommended the registration of all the workers with Employees Social Security Institution (SESSI) and other labour welfare organisations; enactment of all the labour laws according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and the Constitution of Pakistan; removing all barriers from the registration of trade unions and the implementation of labour laws in all sectors; issuance of appointment letter to all employees and abolishing third-party contract system for being exploitative in nature.

The Sindh Labour Conference's major demand was to provide justice to them through labour courts. Presently labour courts are not effectively providing relief to workers. Judges of high court standard should be appointed in labour courts, the provincial labour conference demanded.

Labour welfare facilities are not available for agriculture workers and fishermen. In the Industrial Relations Act 2013 agriculture workers and fishermen are included in the definition of workers, but no rules of business have been made to allow this section of the workers to get their trade unions registered under the law. Currently only one percent of workers are registered in trade unions, which is one of the lowest. They demanded to set up Hari courts at district level to hear the cases related to Sindh Tenancy Act. They also called for making rules of business for registration of trade unions by agriculture workers and fishermen under the Sindh Industrial Relations Act 2013.

The labour leaders expressed concern over increased industrial accidents because of inadequate occupational health and safety facilities in factories and improper labour inspections by provincial labour department. 

They called upon the provincial Sindh government to appoint new labour inspectors according to proportion of the factories and half of them must be women. The Sindh Labour Conference demanded the federal and provincial governments to take measures to implement 27 international conventions committed by the government under GSP-Plus scheme provided by European Union for duty-free exports to European countries.

The textile industrialist s fear closure of industries in case GSP Plus scheme was withdrawn. Karamat Ali pointed out that so far 100 textiles mills have already been closed down and thousands of workers are feared jobless. Electoral reforms be introduced and workers be provided seats in the parliament so they can take active part in law making for their benefits. Agriculture forms are also essential, said Karamat Ali.