60% of working Pakistanis ‘vulnerable’: Report

Six out of ten employed people in Pakistan are working in ‘vulnerable’ employment situations, reveals a recent study.


Shahbaz Rana March 24, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Unhappy with the quality of your job? You’re not alone. Six out of ten employed people in Pakistan are working in ‘vulnerable’ employment situations, reveals a recent study.


A ‘vulnerable’ employee, according to the International Labour Organisation, works at a low-productivity job with inadequate safety nets, largely due to weak institutional employment arrangements.

The situation is worse for women – nearly eight out of ten employed in Pakistan were considered to be vulnerable, or “at risk of lacking decent work,” according to Pakistan Employment Trends report for 2010-11.

The study was carried out by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to gauge the country’s progress towards creating “full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people” – a target under Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.

According to the findings, last year employees’ vulnerability, ie risk of losing ‘decent’ work, increased in the manufacturing, construction, hotels and restaurants, transport and communication, education and health and social work sectors.

Improvements were registered in agriculture, fishing, mining, wholesale and retail, finance, real estate and public administration sectors.

“In Pakistan, most employees are either on contract, daily wagers or work in the agriculture sector. Workers in these categories are more at risk of losing jobs or reduction in wages,” said Dr Rashid Amjad, Vice Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).

Quality of employment

Official findings suggest that “the problem in Pakistan is not so much the absence of economic activity but the low-quality and low-productive nature of these activities which leads to low incomes in the country”.

Most poor and vulnerable people are working very hard and long hours in very low-productivity jobs, where social protection and safety nets and networks are often inadequate or missing, the report adds.

Access to decent work and productive employment is essential as a sustainable way out of poverty, the report says. If people had access to more productive and high-quality jobs, poverty and vulnerability in the country would decline, it adds.

The study finds that vulnerability for female ad youth employees, estimated at 78.3% and 61% respectively, needs special attention.

The study also finds evidence for growing labour force participation, irrespective of the quality of job.

The employment-to-population ratio has steadily increased over the last ten years - from 46.8% in the year 2000 to 50.4% in 2011.

The relatively high employment-to-population ratio for men, almost 80%, is also indicative of a likely abundance of low-quality jobs in the country, the report adds.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2012.

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