Labour laws compliance a must to take advantage of GSP Plus

Published January 7, 2014
Logo of the nternational Labour Organisation (ILO). - File Photo
Logo of the nternational Labour Organisation (ILO). - File Photo

KARACHI: The provinces need to fine-tune the labour laws in line with the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to ensure that Pakistan continues to get benefit from the free-market access given by the European Union (EU) under GSP Plus scheme for an initial period of three years, industry leaders said on Monday.

In a meeting at PHMA House with federal secretary for Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Munir Qureshi, they said that after the 18th Amendment the labour-related matters, including labour inspection laws, have become a provincial subject and it was necessary that all provinces should have uniform labour laws which could meet ILO conventions.

It was also observed that Sindh is lagging behind in bringing about necessary changes in labour laws and this is going to badly hurt over 50 per cent export-oriented industry of the country located in the province.

Responding to these issues Mr Qureshi said that government and industry have to move in tandem to meet the ILO conventions such as Better Work Programme (BWP), Decent Work Programme (DWP) and the World Bank programme under Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGIs)

However, he said that the immediate concern of the government is related to labour inspection which was stopped about six year ago on the demand of industry. He said that the industry should now take it as investment if it wants to meet the ILO conventions and keep exporting.

He informed the participants that Punjab has made some progress regarding labour inspection laws, and this should be taken as a model by other provinces to maintain uniformity in labour inspection laws.

Pakistan is presently ranked at 21 percentile as against minimum requirement of 31 percentile fixed by the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGIs) of the World Bank. Therefore, it was imperative that to keep the flow of the country’s exports to developed countries the industry will either have to follow WGIs or Better Work Programme (BWP) of the ILO.

As per the ILO conditions, the secretary said, only those countries would continue exports after Jan 1, 2016, which have implemented BWP. In case Pakistan fails to qualify under WGIs it will have to adopt BWP of the ILO.

During recent meeting with director general of ILO, he said the issue of BWP was raised so that Pakistan could start the programme at the earliest. The programme is already being implemented by Bangladesh and Myanmar while China and India have already applied.

A lot of time is needed to get the ILO approval for registration in BWP programme because only two countries are registered at a time. However, on strong representation the ILO DG indicated to give some preference to Pakistan.

The matter is presently being handled by commercial counsellor and Pakistan’s ambassador to the US on the considerations of Pakistan’s internal conditions such as war on terrorism. Once BWP certification was allowed, the country’s exports could reach the developed world’s without any problem, Mr Qureshi added.

Though there are 27 ILO conventions which have to be followed, eight of them are core which need to be strictly adopted and certified by export-oriented industry of a country.

However, the industry leaders were of the view that majority of export-oriented industry in Pakistan is already compliant with ILO and other conventions but there are many shortcomings on part of the government which need urgent attention particularly labour-related issues which have now become provincial subject.

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