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> New Industrial Relations Legislation in the pipeline; Parliamentarians’ Support Required for a Comprehensive Law: Syed Khurshid Shah, Federal Minister for Labour and Manpower
   PILDAT Briefing Session for Parliamentarians on Labour Laws in Pakistan
Briefing Session
January 12, 2010
Hotel Marriott, Islamabad

Download Briefing Paper [PDF]

Islamabad; January 12: Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Federal Minister for Labour and Manpower said that there were active consultations going on for bringing the new Industrial Relations legislation and Parliamentarians belonging to all parties must join hands in bringing a comprehensive and unanimous law for the benefit of the labour community of Pakistan. He was addressing a PILDAT Briefing for Parliamentarians on Labour Laws in Pakistan. Thanking the role of PILDAT in arranging a timely consultation inviting MPs, representatives of the labour community, employers, the media and the Labour ministry, Syed Khurshid Shah said that the government was mindful of its responsibilities towards this issue and has taken many concrete steps for the welfare of the labour community of Pakistan.


Beginning from lifting the ban on labour unions from the first speech of the Prime Minister Gilani two years ago and increase in the minimum wages of labourers to Rs. 6000, the Ministry of Labour has taken steps such as increase in the pension of labourers (the pension would now increase simultaneously with increase in the pension of government employees); doubling of the death grant from Rs 150,000 to Rs. 300,000; increase in marriage grant for daughters of labourers from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 70,000 alongside a provision that this grant will be available for all daughters of labourers; increase in the profit share of labourers; 12% share to labourers in organisations including a labour representative on boards, etc. He said that the government has committed that all higher education costs on any child of a registered labourer who qualifies for higher education in Pakistan or abroad will be borne by the government. He said the government has also announced to construct 86000 new houses for labourers in next 5 years whereas only 4000 such houses have been constructed in the 62 year history of Pakistan. Federal Minister said that the government has reinstated more than 9000 employees since March 2008. He said that labour sector faces many problems but these have not been addressed due to the absence of continued democratic rule in Pakistan. However, the government today, following on the legacy of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is committed to resolving the issues of the labour sector in Pakistan.


Raja Faiz ul Hassan Faiz, Director Law, Central Labour Advisor, Federal Ministry of Labour and Manpower presented an overview of Labour Legislation in the area of social security. He said that labour is a concurrent subject making it the responsibility of both the federal and the provincial governments. However, for the sake of uniformity, laws are enacted by the federal government, stipulating that provincial governments may make rules and regulations of their own according to the conditions prevailing in or for the specific requirements of the Provinces.


Speaking at the Briefing Session, Dr. Aliya H. Khan, Professor, Quaid-i-Azam University, elaborated that the institutional capacity of the Labour & Manpower Ministry should be enhanced in terms of the quantity and quality of research expertise to undertake the extremely important task of strengthening and improving the inspection function.


Speaking to the participants of the session, Mr. Zahoor Awan, Deputy General Secretary, Pakistan Workers Federation, demanded that it is the responsibility of the Government to provide social security to labour. Health, Education and housing are the basic rights of workers which every Government seemed to be failed in fulfilling these basic necessities.


Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director, PILDAT welcomed all the Parliamentarians in the briefing session while giving his introductory remarks.


Contributing to the discussion, Parliamentarians highlighted the need for not only a comprehensive legislation but a thorough implementation framework by the Ministry. They highlighted that many housing schemes that had started over 10 years ago in the name of labour community are still incomplete. Many MNAs pointed out workers in their constituency were not able to access government funds to which the Federal Minister promised he will ensure the rightful and instant delivery of those to every worker. MNAs pointed out that a dialogue with employers was also required in detail laying emphasis on the need for registration of workers by every employer. They urged union leaders to not just blame Parliament but to play their rightful role in registration of workers or bring these issues to light for the Ministry and relevant committees to take action on. Parliamentarians also offered suggestions to provide Social Security Health Cards for labourers so that they and their families can access any health facility or hospital in the country.


Representing the voice of the working journalists, Mr. Mazhar Abbas highlighted that despite the award of 6th Wage Board by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s previous government, the successive governments including the current government looks unable to persuade the powerful media owners to implement the award. The Federal Minister promised him that the government of the day remained committed to the rights of the working journalists and in the era of independent judiciary their rights will be granted to them.


Over 130 people participated in the briefing session including MNAs belonging to the PPPP, PML-N, PML, MQM and ANP.

The Briefing Session was organised by PILDAT under the title of "Capacity Building of Legislators on Labour Issues" which is supported by Solidarity Center.