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Amendments to labour laws sought

ISLAMABAD, March 30: The representatives of provincial labour departments have stressed the need of amendments to labour laws to bring them in line with the conventions of International Labour Organization (ILO), which have been ratified by Pakistan.

Officials of labour departments of Gilgit-Baltistan, Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) and Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) jointly reviewed the laws at a four-day workshop which concluded in Islamabad recently.

They jointly reviewed total of ten laws in the workshop which was organized by ILO Pakistan Office.

Acting head of ILO mission, Margaret Reade Rounds, first coined the idea of amendment to bring the laws in line with the ratified ILO Conventions.

She said that Pakistan had ratified a total of 34 ILO conventions, including eight core conventions - Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, Child Labour, Forced Labour, and Discrimination (equal treatment in employment and occupation and equal remuneration for equal value of work).

Representatives of EFP and PWF said that the workshop had provided an opportunity to officials of the labour departments to share their respective provincial experiences on the status of labour laws and harmonization with the international labour standards.

With the passage of eighteenth amendment, the labour legislation and its implementation now solely rests with the provincial governments.

Delegates while reviewing the Sindh Industrial Relations Bill 2013 concurred that the legislations would be more of an objective nature with disputes being filtered through arbitration and giving the essence of enforcement through bilateral efforts and arrangements between workers and employers.

Saifullah Chaudhry, ILO Senior Programme Officer said that on the demand of provincial labour departments, EFP and PWF, the ILO has undertaken the initiative to provide technical assistance to the provincial labour departments to bring the labour laws in line with the international labour standards.

He further said that improvement in the provincial labour legislation would help the Ministry of Human Resource Development to coordinate the progress and report on the compliance of the ratified ILO conventions to the CEAR.

The workshop participants agreed to expedite the enactment of new child labour law, as the first draft has already been developed with the ILO support in 2012.

It was also agreed to develop a set of amendments in the existing bonded labour law to make it more effective to eliminate bonded labour.

They agreed that the application of labour laws has to be extended to home-based workers, peasants, fishing communities and others in the informal sector by giving them the right to form unions.

They appreciated the fact that the new Sindh Industrial Relations Bill 2013 passed by the outgoing Sindh Assembly had also extended the law to workers in the agricultural and fishing sectors.