‘Pakistan must ensure decent work for its 55 million workforce’

Published: September 21, 2012

ILO Country Director stressed on the need to ensure decent work for all workers, the majority of whom work in the large agriculture and informal sectors. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

In the backdrop of a recent tragic factory fire incident in Karachi the government, representatives of employers and workers on Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to promoting social justice through decent work environment.

A tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the representatives of the employers, workers and government officials in presence of International Labour Organisation (ILO) country head at the ILO office in Islamabad, said a press release issued.

ILO Country Director Francesco d’Ovidio, Ministry of Human Resources Development Secretary Muhammad Ahsan Raja and Representatives from the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan and Pakistan Workers’ Federation signed the MoU on the second Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP-II).

The MoU outlined key areas of ILO assistance to the tripartite constituents — federal and provincial governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations — over a six-year period.

Ovidio in his address noted that “Pakistan’s total labour force is almost 55 million, thus making it the ninth largest country in terms of labour force size”.

He stressed on the need to ensure decent work for all workers, the majority of whom work in the large agriculture and informal sectors.

While highlighting the decent work deficits in the country, he emphasised the need to align the labour legislation with the ratified International Labour Standards, remove ambiguities between the federal and provincial labour legislation, and drastically overcoming the existence of weak to negligible labour regulation. He also hinted at the sluggish pace of implementation of policies on child and bonded labour.

Ovidio said that the lack of a systematic delivery system of competency-based vocational and employability skills, insufficient coverage of social security system, and poor application of occupation safety and health as also contributing to problems for workers, subsequently affecting the productivity of enterprises and the economy.

He assured ILO’s full support to help the tri-partite constituents in implementing the DWCP-II priorities in the coming years.

Secretary Raja assured the gathering that the government will continue to fulfil its commitments under the ratified ILO Conventions and coordinate with provincial labour departments to ensure that the benefits of decent work could be extended to all workers.

Zahoor Awan, representing Pakistan Workers Federation, highlighted the need to ensure the enforcement of labour legislation that could ensure the workers’ rights but also their safety at the workplaces.

The ceremony concluded with the symbolic signing of giant replica of the MOU on DWCP II by all delegates of governments, employers, workers and other stakeholders present at the occasion as sign of their commitment to promote decent work for all in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2012.

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