KARACHI: The flaws in the obsolete labour laws of the country are the prime cause of the tragic Baldia Town incident. The Factories Act, 1934 is more or less still in place in its original form and much of it is obsolete. It is important to mention that the fine for a violation of any section under this act is Rs500, as fixed by the British government in 1934. The present value of this amount will be equivalent to around Rs850,000. How can the Labour Welfare Department implement the Factories Act by imposing a paltry fine of Rs500 on a multimillionaire industrialist?
It is high time that amendments are made to the labour laws, as well as to the Compensation Act 1923, Payment of Wages Act 1936, Standing Orders Ordinance 1968 and Shops and Establishment Act 1969. All of these laws are obsolete. The scope of these laws does not cover the present labour issues the country faces. Instead of banning or restricting labour inspectors from inspections as has been happening in the past, the accountability mechanism should be revised so that any official of a government department could not misuse his/her powers.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2012.
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