KARACHI - The Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) has expressed concern over the statement of the Supreme Court chief justice that he will ban trade unions in the country if they are not permitted by law.

In a press statement here on Monday, Pakistan Workers Federation Punjab President Chaudhry Naseem Iqbal termed the statement undemocratic and a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan. He said that trade unions had many hopes from the chief justice of Pakistan that he would protect the rights of workers and labour class. He said that workers could knock at the door of court if employers violate the rules and rights of the workers. He said chief justice is the top custodian of fundamental rights of the people and the basic pillars of freedom and liberties as demanded by the law in the country. He said existence of trade unions in the country is a legal and constitutional requirement which the CJ should have been protecting instead of talking about their abolition. He said such an attitude would only support the deeply trenched capitalism in the country and go along to strengthen the iron grip of capitalists upon the poor working classes. He explained that the right to association is guaranteed by Article 17 of the Pakistani Constitution imparting on every citizen the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order or morality. 

He underlined the importance of trade unions and called them blessing in the country for the poor and downtrodden workers. He said they play pivotal role by promoting and maintaining national integration by reducing the number of industrial disputes among the workers and industrialists. 

Chaudhary Naseem gave reference from the history on the occasion and said father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was also a strong believer of trade unions and democratic institutions in the country, because they protect the interests of the poor working classes. He recalled that Quaid Azam was elected President of All India Postal Staff Union in 1925 which had a membership of 70,000. As a member of the Indian Legislative Assembly for over thirty-?ve years, the Quaid played a key role in the enactment of the Trade Union Act, 1926, which provided legal cover to the formation of unions. He attended the founding session of the All India Trade Union Congress in October 1920. He had personal relationship with the Labour Leaders of that time, including Lala Lajpat Rai, Dewan Chaman Lal, MM Alvi and Subas Chanderbos.

He said that trade union are the nursery of democracy both for the masses and leaders, and form the basis of healthy electoral process. Trade union leader understands the real issues of the workers.  Trade union stops exploitation of workers in the factories, he said in press statement.

Shaukat Chaudhary General Secretary of Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz said trade unions protect the due rights of workers.  He also said trade union provides job security and decent work in the industries.  Trade union is considered major hindrance against physical, mental health any exploitation of the workers.  He highlighted the importance of trade union and said it plays the role of negotiator between the employer and worker for the remuneration when production of goods is increased.  It provides safe and healthy environment. No employer can expel the workers from their job in the presence of union. Moreover, it provides job security. He said no example of corruption could be quoted from the labour leaders; no trade union leader was ever tried in corruption cases in the country.

Retarding the allegations union disrupted the progress of the institution, he said the institutions’ progress compromised when workers’ fundamental rights were usurped and political interference started.  He appreciated the role of trade unions and said factories/industries progressed because of trade union’s participation. He said Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Steel Mills’s progress were compromised by the politically appointed heads and not because of trade unions. They were not trade Union leader or workers. Institutions fail because of poor planning including sale and purchase, he concluded.