ISLAMABAD: Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the Supreme Court has said speedy and fair justice for workers should be a priority of the judicial system, particularly the labour courts.
Speaking at the concluding ceremony of a workshop held for judges of labour courts and members of the National Industrial Relations Commission (NIRC), Justice Shah observed that as dispute settlement managers, labour court judges should wear a ‘human rights cap’ while adjudicating cases, and make full use of the guarantees and rights articulated in the Constitution as well as national and international laws.
This would protect the social, economic and human rights of the workers and achieve industrial peace, rapid economic and social growth in the country, he added.
The workshop was held in Islamabad under a project, ‘Trade for Decent Work’ funded by the European Union and implemented by International labour Organisation (ILO) in collaboration with the Federal Judicial Academy and Turin-based ILO International Training centre. Nineteen judges and presiding officers of the labour courts from all provinces along with two members of the NIRC and research officers from the Supreme Court participated in the workshop.
Justice Shah called for continued training of judges particularly in alternate Labour Dispute Resolution (LDR), International Labour Standards (ILS), labour laws and Information and Communication (ICT) technologies to promote an adroit, robust and dynamic labour jurisprudence system.
Deploring the absence of a celebrated judgment and little public interest litigation (PIL) around the settlement of labour disputes in the country, Justice Shah wished that the labour justice system could produce something that could be celebrated.
He said only 30 functional labour courts in Pakistan were catering to dispute settlement and violation of workers’ rights for a workforce of 65 million.
Referring to 10,000 cases so far filed in the labour courts, he expressed concern that either everything was well or there was something very alarming.
The Supreme Court justice also highlighted the need to safeguard the rights of workers in the backdrop of Pakistan’s international cooperation for mega infrastructure development and trade as well as challenges posed to the world by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking on the occasion, ILO Director Ingrid Christensen said an effective judicial system not only benefitted Pakistan’s 65 million workforce but their dependent families. Therefore, non-provision of the fundamental rights of the workers had an adverse effect on a larger segment of society, thus hampering socioeconomic growth and hindering progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2021