Pakistan seeks ILO strategy to protect workers post-Covid

SAPM Bukhari calls for convening virtual session by UN agency to evolve way forward for labourer


APP May 01, 2020
PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday urged the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to convene a virtual session of its member states to evolve a comprehensive strategy for betterment of the labourer community in the post-coronavirus world.

On behalf of the government of Pakistan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari forwarded the request to ILO Director General Guy Ryder on the occasion of international labour day.

In a letter, the SAPM highlighted the issues faced by the workers in Pakistan and across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic. He underlined the need for initiating a global dialogue to develop a way forward which could help working class minimise impact of the pandemic.

Highlighting the issues of Pakistan in the midst of coronavirus, he said it was not his country alone where the coronavirus posed a great challenge to the labourers. “All the developing economies in the region and world faced similar challenges,” he added.

Bukhari called for collective efforts to resolve the issue of labourers, who had been bearing the brunt of global pandemic worldwide. “On the occasion of labour day 2020, it is most important that there is start of a global dialogue leading to a global recovery,” he said.

”To enable a strategic dialogue to discuss ‘the future of work in a post-Covid world’ for all workers especially those in the developing world, I urge you to call a special virtual session with representation from all ILO member countries, agencies, enterprises, organisations, groups/individuals to establish a way forward in a world emerging from a global crisis.”

The SAPM informed the ILO director general about Pakistan’s major concerns regarding the labourers. He pointed out that a quarter of Pakistani population lived below the poverty line and another portion of the society was prone to fall into the extreme poverty due to the virus impacts on economy.

“This alone leads us far behind from achieving the ILO 2030 agenda,” he said. He added 7 out of every 10 workers were not part of the registered workforce in the country which might cause 74% rise in relative poverty rates of the informal workers.

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“With 6.75% of Pakistan’s GDP coming from remittances of migrant workers, my third cause of concern is also the Pakistani workforce facing joblessness and salary cuts in foreign lands,” the SAPM told the ILO director general in the letter.

Bukhari also dilated on the initiatives taken by the government to protect downtrodden segments of the society and the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from the economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Rs1.2 trillion stimulus package is not common for economies of our size. A major part of this package is tax relief, financial assistance to 3.5 million SMEs and the facilitation of two of our biggest sectors of employment: construction and agriculture.”

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