Awareness of labor laws must to realize rights: moot toldSeptember 7, 2015
KARACHI: Awareness and knowledge about labor laws is necessary for realization of labor rights and labor union leaders especially those working on plant level should ensure they are well-versed with labor laws and rules, said speakers of a training workshop here. Two-day training workshop on “Organizing/ Collective Bargaining/ Trends in Labor Laws” was organized by IndusrtiALL at the Home Based Women Workers Center (HBWWC), presided over by IndusrtiALL Global Union Pakistan Council Secretary Imran Ali.
Tanveer Nazir, representative of IndusrtiALL Global Union opened the moot and spoke on its aims and objects.
Joint Labor Director Makhdoom Taufeeq Ahmed speaking in opening session on Collective Bargaining Agent and Agreement said a labor union could not safeguard the rights of its labors till it gets the collective bargaining agent (CBA) certificate. In industries where there is more than one labor union the CBA is obtained through a referendum. Later, the elected CBA presents its charter of demand to the owners of factory. He said referendums are of two types: one at factorylevel or through referendum in case when more than one labor unionis present in the factory, and two in case when branches of the factory or industry are present in more than one province and in this case a referendum is completed in 30 days.
Talking on agreement and settlement, he said that the privileges as prescribed by the government must be given to workers. He said sadly in Pakistan hardly 2 percent workers are organized in labor unions. He said even if we think optimistically the number of the organized labor is Pakistani is no more than 5percent of total labor force. He said the second issue is that in Pakistan the trade unions are not completely independent. He said when 100percent workers are united in trade unions corruption in Pakistan could be ended easily.
National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUP) leader Rafiq Baloch speaking in the second session on Formation of Trade Union and IRA said the Article 17 of the constitution of Pakistan permits all citizens to form their trade unions and associations without any discrimination. Under this article all workers have got the right to join a trade union or association of his or her choice in their workplace. However, a worker cannot be the member of two labor unions. If he joins the second union, his membership in the first union would go cancelled automatically.
He said workers of a factory or more than one factories of same owner in same industry could form a labor union. For this purpose they have to call a general body meeting of workers for this sole purpose and the general body should also approve the formation of labor union. In this meeting the general body sets up a constitution making committee comprised of some of their members led by a chairman. This gathering also proposes and the name of the union. The general body authorizes the committee to present the name of the union in their next meeting for discussion. In this meeting the election of the office-bearers of the union is held as per its constitution. These proceedings are held presided over by the chairman. These proceedings are being written and called the minutes of meeting. In IRO it is called a resolution.
He welcomed the devolution of labor related matters to the provinces under the 18th amendment. He said in IRA-1969 workers had got more security; however, the IRA-2012 is basically anti-labor law. He said the new standing orders are relatively better.
Zahra Khan, research scholar and general secretary of Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) speaking in a session of Women and Trade Union said globally there is a prominent role of women on labor movements and revolutions. She said in Pakistan women are 51percent of total workforce. She said the industrialists prefer women labors as they are easily controlled and they also demand lower wages. She said as women face many problems including their domestic issues the employers easily exploit them. She said if women workers are given 51 percent representation in labor unions it could result in a great boost to the trade union movement.
She said the reason behind low participation of women in trade unions include discrimination with them, lack of education, domestic problems, cultural traditions, gender-based harassment, negative attitude of trade unions and anti-women policies of the government. She said it needs to make both male and female workers fully aware and educated. She said giving representation to women in trade union leadership would encourage other women workers to join the trade unions. She stressed the need of making effective policies against harassment of women. She welcomed the amendment in SIRA to give a proportionate representation to women workers in office-bearers of trade unions. She hoped this would further encourage women workers to join trade unions of their workplaces.
IndusrtiALL Pakistan Council Secretary Imran Ali said they would continue holding trainings on labor laws and other issued related to workers to enhance their capacity building. He said trained and sensitized labors could deter the violation of labor laws and excesses done to workers.