After 18th Amend, labour laws in provinces’ court

There is a general observation about the surfacing of shortcomings after the passage of 18th Amendment, in terms of provinces’ failure to prepare their legislations of labour laws, when various departments came into the provincial governments’ jurisprudence.
Constitutional experts say that recent constitutional reforms have affected at least 130 laws pertaining to labour and no serious work was done before this vital amendment to the constitution. While gauging about the gravity of the matter, the said if provinces are not ready for lawmaking, as it is ostensibly evident from the current situation, then the deprived people of the provinces would not able to get benefits of 18th amendment.
While highlighting Sindh’s failure in preparing legislation of labour laws they said that the Sindh Law Department may still be in the process of making proposals for labour laws, but it still has not called for any meetings with trade unionists and labour leaders, nor has it asked for any suggestions as to how to make labour-friendly laws. Meanwhile, labour law experts are of the view that the provinces still have not adopted the Industrial Relations Act 2008 without any major changes, even after a considerable passage of time since the passage of 18th Amendment. However, in Punjab, many anti-labour provisions have been introduced in the Industrial Relations Act.
But the federal government is still facing a big challenge regarding the transference of the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) to the provinces, especially after provinces’ shortcomings in making preparation and capacity building as to the ones that are already under their prerogative, the experts added.
They also said that while most of the labour laws including the Industrial Relations Act 1969 and the Industrial Relations Ordinance 2002 were enacted during the dictators’ governments the preceding democratic governments did not make any serious efforts either [towards labour legislation and welfare].
A federal government official told Pakistan Today that provinces do not have the capacity to make the required laws or bring changes in the existing laws. He also stressed the need for an increased cooperation among provinces and between the provinces and the federal government as well as it is mandatory for both parties to play a proactive role.
The federal government has formed a Human Resource Development Ministry which would look after the affairs of the Federal Labour Ministry. While the EOBI and the WWF would now come under this new ministry under the new arrangement, the role of the Central Labour Advisor would be to look about labour legislation at the provincial level and ensure their enactment according to ILO Conventions ratified by Pakistan.
The ground reality reveals that more than 60 percent of the labour of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab is dwelling in Sindh and most of the time they also get registered in Sindh. Moreover, as it often happens that after their retirement these employees go back to their own provinces, but in that case, it remains vague as to which provincial government will bear the expenses of pension of these employees?
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) organised Sindh labour conference to discuss various suggestion for Sindh government to making labour laws and to highlight myriad labour laws related issues in Karachi last week. The meeting was attended by labour leaders and trade unionists from across the country. It was first initiative regarding suggestion for law making in the Sindh Assembly.
In the meeting, an 11-memebr committee was formed to contact major political parties in the provincial assembly of Sindh to steer the course of pro-labour amendments in the draft of the Sindh Industrial Relations Act 2011.
A delegation, including members the Sindh Labour Conference Committee members, mainly trade union activists, then organised a meeting with the parliamentary party group of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) at the Khurshid Begum Memorial Secretariat at the Party’s Karachi’s head office Nine Zero on Sunday.
The delegation informed the MQM parliamentary members of the issues faced by workers from the industrial, agriculture and services sector in the province of Sindh and also handed over the resolutions passed on the occasion of the Labour Conference. The MQM delegation assured the workers unionists and rights activists that their party would consider the recommendations of the conference for the future labour legislation in the
The Sindh Labour Conference committee would also hold meetings with parliamentary groups of the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, the Awami National Party and the National People’s Party. And in the next phase, the committee would hold meetings with those political parties, which do not have representation in the provincial assembly.
Similarly, after holding the provincial conferences in other three provinces, the similar exercise of contacting parliamentary political parties would also be repeated in the other three.

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