Islamabad - The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands have embarked on a unique partnership aimed to support the government of Pakistan, workers and employers’ organisations in developing measures to revitalise the country’s labour inspection machinery.

Such improvements are imperative to keep Pakistan’s textile sector attractive internationally, especially after the advantageous trade conditions offered to Pakistan under GSP+.

During a press briefing on the project in Islamabad, the Netherlands Acting Ambassador Renate Pors stated, “I am encouraged to see that the Pakistani authorities are conscious about what is at stake for the economy, for employment and for the rights of its citizens. The Netherlands is contributing its share through this programme. And as a friend of Pakistan, we ask the Pakistani governments, both federal and provincial, to assume their responsibilities too.”

Federal Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development (OPHRD), Sikandar Ismail Khan highlighted, “Labour inspection is one of the core functions of labour administration system and a key element for enduring the implementation of labour policies, providing feedback and allowing for readjustment of these policies as necessary.” Responding to a question, Khan said that after the devolution of labour subject in 18th constitutional amendment, the federal government is actively supporting all provincial governments in strengthening their labour administration system for ensuring well-being and economic development of the people of Pakistan. He thanked the ILO and the government of Netherlands for partnering with the government of Pakistan on this important initiative.

Speaking on the occasion, ILO Country Director Francesco d’Ovidio outlined the main building blocks of the project saying, “This project is designed to revitalise labour inspection system to enhance its effectiveness, outreach and coverage in line with international labour standards and also responds to GSP plus which the country put into operation in January 2014.”

The ILO’s partnership with the Kingdom of Netherlands in Pakistan has gained strength over the last twelve months. Notable collaborations include the 2014 roundtable meeting hosted by the ILO at which Ploumen, the Netherlands Minister of International Trade and Development, stressed the need for SMEs in Pakistan’s textile sector to provide better working conditions as a prerequisite for enhanced exports to the EU. This was immediately followed by an initiative on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) under which over 100 labour inspectors were trained.

The most current collaboration among the ILO, Kingdom of Netherlands and International Finance Cooperation (IFC) includes the establishment and operationalisation of the first Buyers Forum in Pakistan comprised of major international brands.