–Paying less than Rs15,000 to labourer declared criminal offence
–New labour policy addresses ‘social evils’ like child labour, bonded labour, gender discrimination, lack of health facilities at workplaces
LAHORE: The Punjab government on Friday launched its new labour policy in a bid to enhance the role of social partners in improving the condition of workers.
Formally launched by Labour and Human Resource Minister Ansar Majeed Khan, the “Punjab Labour Policy 2018” proposes a steering committee overseeing implementation of the policy through a unit, serving as secretariat of the Labour Policy.
According to the new policy, it is now a crime to pay less than Rs 15,000 per month, the minimum wage, to any labourer. The government also makes an attempt to extend the legal and welfare covers to domestic and home-based workers. It will also ensure that their legal rights and benefits are protected through vigorous inspection.
Talking to representatives of the labour union, the minister said that the PTI-led government was utilising all resources for the welfare of the labour class.
He said the government was taking steps to include the labour class in the national policies.
Ansar Majeed Khan said that a real change in the country was impossible until the labour class receives basic facilities at its doorstep.
He said Pakistan was facing financial problems due to massive corruption of the former rulers. He said that with the help of the transparent policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan would regain its status.
The new policy has 18 objectives, including improvement in occupational safety and health through capacity development and awareness, rationalisation in minimum wages through research and development. One of the main objectives is “Ease of Doing Business Policy” to attract Investment through simplification of rules and procedures under labour laws.
“For a paradigm-shift in the prevailing policies and for visible improvements in the system, there is no reliance on the gimmickry of words and the policy directly addresses bitter realities and social evils like child labour, bonded labour, gender discrimination, gender mainstreaming, labour protection, out of school children and lack of health facilities for the workers etc which stare us in the face even in the 21st century,” according to the new policy.
The government will initiate administrative measures to facilitate women workers at the workplace, according to the docu like establishment of daycare centres, separate washrooms, separate meal places and specific arrangements in notified canteens.
The policy has entrusted the Minimum Wages Board with holding tripartite meetings, also attended by eminent economic experts, for identifying the minimum level of wage enough to subsistence as per current inflation and consumer price index before giving a decision, acceptable to all the stakeholders.
Necessary provisions have added to all relevant laws for addressing discrimination in remuneration and employment on basis of sex, religion, caste, origin, etc and the payment of wages through scheduled banks.
Promising a law on domestic workers, the policy forms a separate inspection regime for effectively implementing domestic workers policy within months.
For curbing child labour ‘gradually’, it establishes a province-wide survey of child workers, extending scope of vigilance committees, introducing online reporting mechanism and notifying inspectors under the new child labour laws for effective implementation.
It calls for more steps to discourage bonded labour like preferring to procure bricks for public projects from the kilns adhering to the law and improving reporting.
The policy also forms a centralised database of workers allocating unique code to all establishments and linked with the Federal Board of Revenue, Punjab Revenue Authority, all directorates, hospitals, dispensaries, social welfare centres and other relevant departments and units for easy cross-verification of workers, their documents, contributions and dues.
The draft legislation is set to be tabled before the Punjab Assembly within a short span.