Labour leaders call for proportional representation of working class in legislative bodies

Laws should be amended according to ILO conventions, demand trade unionists


News Desk August 14, 2017
A labourer throws mud on bricks kept for drying at a kiln. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Trade unionists and labour leaders demanded on Sunday the provision of proportional representation for the working class in Parliament and all provincial assemblies, as in the current electoral system, labourers and the working class are unable to reach the legislative bodies. A set of recommendations demanded reserved seats for workers and nomination of labour leaders by political parties in general elections.

The recommendations were made at the concluding session of the two-day Sindh Labour Conference organised by the National Labour Council (NLC) in collaboration with the Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) at the Piler Centre in Karachi. A large number of representatives of trade unions, labour organisations and agricultural workers' organisations from across Sindh attended the conference.

The participants of the conference unanimously agreed that since there is no representation of the working class in the sitting assemblies, their issues are not discussed or solved. Members of legislative bodies mostly comprise feudal lords and elites who do not speak about the problems of the working class, said the participants.

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The representatives of trade unions demanded that all labour laws be amended according to the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Constitution of Pakistan. The rights activists also called for the abolishment of the third-party contract system, as it was intrinsically exploitative.

A major recommendation made at the conference was for the appointment of new labour inspectors according to proportion of factories, of which half must be women.

The labour leaders also called for setting up hari courts at the district level to hear cases relating to the Sindh Tenancy Act. They also made a demand for making rules of business for the registration of trade unions of agricultural workers and fishermen under the Sindh Industrial Relations Act, 2013.

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Sindh Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi, who was the chief guest at the concluding session of the conference, agreed to the recommendation that women labour inspectors be appointed for effective inspection particularly in fields where women are employed in a large number, like the textile and garments industries.

Speaking on the occasion, Labour Secretary Abdul Rasheed Solangi said that after the 18th Amendment, Sindh is the first province where the mandatory tripartite labour conference is being held in September. Homework for the upcoming conference has been completed and the labour department will draft the new labour policy in light of recommendations that will be approved in that conference, the secretary added.

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