The launching of the first-ever labour policy of Sindh is an important step towards building a framework of industrial relations around the social and economic aspirations of the province. The Sindh government sees the policy as the fulfillment of tripartite aims given that it has the ‘unanimous’ support of three major stakeholders – workers, employers and government. However, only living proof of joint cooperation among these stakeholders will determine whether the policy is successful or not. The provincial government is already touting it as a landmark achievement and inviting other provinces to follow Sindh’s lead.
Gender parity is one of the goals of the policy – which covers the agriculture sector, home-based workers and those in other sectors – and we hope the government is able to enforce it in letter and spirit. This involves creating a favourable social environment for women in the workplace that is free from harassment and guaranteeing equal pay for women. The 45-point labour document has more lofty but tough objectives: it wants to eradicate child labour and bonded labour altogether. To achieve this, however, the government has to firm up its own resolve and encourage different sectors to adopt necessary amendments in the policy to ensure the laws enshrined in it are passed by the provincial legislature. It would really help if the Sindh government can carry out a child labour headcount and coerce them into educational institutions after disengaging them from their work environments.
There is an urgent need to develop a system for training skilled labour, creating more jobs in the private and public sectors in urban and rural areas as well as establishing industrial support centres to promote industries in rural areas. What is central to the whole effort is bringing suitable amendments in the existing labour laws and empowering workers by establishing industrywide trade unionism.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2018.
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