‘Above the law?’

January 18, 2020

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APROPOS the article ‘Above the law?’ (Jan 6). The writer has expressed his disappointment over the strike call given by the bar councils to boycott the courts following their attack on the Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Lahore and criticised the ever-growing strike culture in the country.

He has quoted the strikes by labour stating: “strikes are generally resorted to by workers to shut down their employers’ factories as a means of ensuring their demands are met because the employer is withholding their rights.”

This is a sweeping statement. There is a comprehensive procedure prescribed under the respective Industrial Relations Acts of all the provinces for the raising of demands by workers, a time-frame for the commencement of bargaining and the conciliation process by the government appointed conciliators if negotiations between the employer and the workers’ union fail. In case there is no settlement despite intervention by the conciliator, the union may serve a 14-day strike notice to its employer.

Since factories are supposed to produce, it is not desirable that they are shut down at a moment’s notice and on flimsy grounds. The government has therefore devised a legal framework whereby it may prohibit strike in public utility services and also in other industries by approaching the labour court.

Resorting to abrupt strikes by workers or sudden lockout of their factories by the employers, are acts which are unlawful and punishable by the courts. Hence, both the workers and the employers avoid aggression and confrontation between themselves and adopt the legal recourse to resolve their respective issues.

Parvez Rahim

Karachi

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020