LAHORE - Labour leaders and rights activists have expressed hopes and fears about Punjab government’s new labour policy.

In its Punjab Labour Policy 2018, the provincial government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has promised to simplify the existing labour laws, improve enforcement of these laws through better inspections and rationalise the wages.

The Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF), which was formed in 2005 as a result of merger of three national level federations, has a positive view of the new labour policy. PWF Chairman Chaudhry Naseem told The Nation that policies are always good; the real issue is their enforcement. “The government’s decision to register labourers of factories will change the scenario and benefit labourers because it will provide social security benefits to them,” he said.

He said that labourers could not benefit from the welfare fund in a timely manner in the past and the new policy has promised to resolve this issue.

“It takes a deceased labourer’s family months and sometimes years to receive the Rs500,000 death grant. Similarly, a labourer would not get on time marriage grant of Rs100,000 for marriage of his daughter,” he said.

Education of children of workers is one of the most pinching issues, he said. In this policy document the government has promised to ensure a better coordination among all relevant departments to provide free education to workers’ children, he said.

“We believe the PTI government will implement the policy without wasting any time. The issue of minimum wages should be resolved with a new approach and the minimum wage should be announced as living wage,” he said.

According to the Pakistan Workers Federation, living wage of a labourer with a five-member family should be Rs39,000.

The All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF) leaders urged the government to come up with a solid implementation plan for the new labour policy.

Mumtaz Mughal said implementation of the policy on the gender at work was need of the hour in line with the facilities promised in the Punjab Labour Policy 2018. “The policy document has not catered to informal labour sector in detail,” he said.

The PTI government in the Labour Policy document promised initiation of administrative measures to facilitate women workers at workplace like establishment of day care centres, separate washrooms, separate meal places and specific arrangements at notified canteens.

Experts say women workers’ socio-economic interests will be protected if they are provided subsidised transportation.

Child Rights Movement Coordinator Rashida Qureshi welcomed the Punjab Labour Policy 2018 and demanded that the government implement the policy without wasting any time.