KARACHI - Civil society and labour leaders on Monday called upon the legislators of Sindh Assembly to review and amend all the labour laws passed by present assembly by making them compliant to the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

They also urged the parliamentarians to frame a coordinated implementation strategy of the labour and human rights laws.

The labour leaders and civil society activists were speaking at a consultation with the members of Sindh Assembly organized by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at a local hotel.

Justice (r) Majida Razvi, Chairperson of Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) presided over the meeting and MPAs belonging to almost all political parties in Sindh Assembly attended the meeting. Justice (r) Majida Razvi of SHRC said common people are suffering the most because of consumption of the polluted water and lack of healthcare facilities in the province. There is a lack of access to justice in the society, she added.

Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER said despite the fact Sindh Assembly has made record legislation in labour, however, their implementation is still a cause of concern.

It is encouraging that European Union has extended the Genealised System of Preference (GSP)-Plus scheme for Pakistan to export duty free products in the European market. It would have been unfortunate if this GSP-Plus was withdrawn, however, this is extended for the next two years. All 27 international conventions pertaining to human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and good governance needed to be implemented. Karamat Ali asked the legislators to make the already passed laws compliant to ILO standards.

He appreciated the Sindh government for giving first-ever Labour Policy and holding the provincial Tripartite Labour Conference and said the EU’s review report has especially mentioned holding of Tripartite Labour Conference.  The Sindh Labour Policy is in fact an election manifesto for PPP government and all political parties should include the points in the Labour Policy in their Election Manifestoes.

PPP MPA Kulsoom Chandio said the present provincial assembly has made record legislation. However, he regretted that implementation of those laws is still is a major cause of concern. MPA from Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) Mohammad Rafiq Banbhan said agriculture workers are not getting the same facilities, which the industrial workers are  enjoying like social security and oldage benefits.

Habibuddin Junaidi said the provincial government of Sindh is seriousness in implementation on Labour Policy. He said minimum wages are fixed at Rs. 15,000 for unskilled workers, but unfortunately this rate is also not paid in most of industries in the province.

In her presentation, senior research Zeenat Hisam said that most of Pakistani labour laws are not compliant to the international conventions. She said Process of provincial law-making is slow, restrictive clauses have been retained in several laws and tripartite consultation is reported but feedback not always accommodated.

Zeenia Shaukat gave an overview of human rights situation in Pakistan. She said enforced disappearance cases have increased in recent years but the government is denying. Freedom of expression, right to association and assembly are severely curbed.

Media is restricted and new cyber legislation is anti-right of expression. Misuse of Blasphemy law is reported and minorities are considering themselves unsafe in Pakistan.

Human Rights activist Zulfiqar Shah from PILER gave a presentation about GSP-Plus and its compliance in Pakistan. He suggested to initiate oversight of relevant ministries and institutions, follow up of periodic reporting  and compliance to observations /recommendations, budget allocation for the human rights institutions like SHRC and create a debate on human rights reforms agenda. Besides legislators, representatives of government departments and civil society also attended the consultation.