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2014 Sindh Labour Conference : selected news reports

29 September 2014

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Daily Times

PILER, trade unions to hold ‘Sindh Labour Conference’

Staff Report
September 26, 2014

KARACHI: Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in collaboration with trade unions announced on Thursday, to bring together more than 200 delegates from 19 labour federation, 31 labour union, 12 NGOs and the political parties from the four provinces, in three-days ‘Sindh Labour Conference’ at PILER Centre, Karachi.
Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, Chief Minister Balochistan will be the chief guest at the closing session of the conference, starting from Friday September 26. The large number of delegates would speak on in the conference on Labour Legislation, Informal Sector and Vulnerability, Labour in Agriculture, Labour Welfare and State Institutions, Occupational Health and Safety, International Trade and Labour Rights, Privatisation and Way Forward for the Labour Movement.
The announcement was jointly made by the senior trade union leader and member of the Organising Committee of the Sindh Conference Habibuddin Junaidi and Chief Executive of PILER Karamat Ali, in a press conference at Karachi Press Club.
Habibuddin Junaidi said “the fragmented labour organizations and the ineffectiveness of the government have created a vacuum due to which the workers rights are not represented well; the Conference aims to fill this gape, and to energize the weakened labour movement in the country.” The objective of the conference is to facilitate a platform for labour and concerned stakeholders to discuss, brainstorm and share the issues confronted by the labour, he added.
This conference will bring together the trade unions, civil society and the government to create collaboration among them and open the ways for constructive initiatives, Junaidi said that “the conference will not limit to industrial worker, the rural formers and thousands others working informally are also targeted in the conference.” He added that the working class in Pakistan face deplorable conditions where 80 percent of the workers do not receive minimum wages and mostly are forced to work 12 to 16 hours a day without payment of overtimes.
He said the privatisation planes of the current government were threats to the workers in state-owned institutions which fear widespread lay off as it was witnessed in the past. The current reforms under the pressure from International Monetary Fund and World Bank would bring about the worst results.
Karamat Ali said “Pakistan has ratified many international labour conventions but later these conventions were amended the way that they are now being used against the workers, according to a report by a monetary mission of ILO the labour laws in the country actually exempts 75 percent of the workers from there basic rights.” He added that the conference would be initiating consultation over the labour laws, poor governance of the state-run labour welfare institutions and the weakening of trade unions.

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Daily Times

Sindh Labour Conference concludes: Balochistan to hold first tripartite conference

By Haroon Ishaq
September 29, 2014

KARACHI: Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch announced holding the first-ever provincial tripartite labour conference after the 18th Amendment in Quetta by the last week of October, as recommendation made on the last day of the three-day Sindh Labour Conference, that ended on Sunday.
The conference was jointly held by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in collaboration with labour unions, in Gulshan-e-Maymar. Workers’ unity, judicial and land reforms and imposition of international standards were discussed during the conference. Abdul Malik Baloch was the chief guest, while many renowned personalities from worker unions, civil society and political parties along with legal and economic experts were among the speakers.
Speaking on the occasion, Abdul Malik said, “By the struggle of six decade, still we could not unite the nation and the worker.”
He added that their election manifesto was focused on labour rights but due to the coalition government many agendas were still not possible to implement.
He said that his was the only party that, in the Supreme Court, supported the land reforms. “We will ensure implementation of the recommendation of this conference in Balochistan,” he said. He added, “We had a cap of elder progressive heads but the new generation did not have enough guidance. The spirit of workers’ rights and progressive struggle should be transferred to the new generation.”
The last day’s session was presided over by IA Rahman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), who said, “Workers had more rights fifty years ago than they have today. With the passage of time, the ruling class is exempting the rights one by one.”
He said that it was the basic right as well the duty of the working class to monitor the state machinery.
He criticised the slogan of “Naya Pakistan”, saying that the rights of workers were not represented anywhere in the so-called new Pakistan. “While everyone is talking about the constitution, there are certain articles which no one is ready to mention.” Recalling Article 3 and Article 38 of the constitution, he said that it was enshrined therein that it was the duty of state to end all type of exploitation, and that the state should provide social security.
He said that after 60 years in 2010, education was – for the first time – accepted as a basic right of the citizens, while the rights to employment, social security and health were not formally accepted as basic rights of the citizens by law.
On the third day, PILER Director Karamat Ali summarise the nine sessions of the three-day conference and put forwarded key recommendations of all sessions, which were later unanimously passed by the delegates.
“The only power in the hands of workers is organisation. Without organisation, none of the objectives of the workers is possible to achieve,” he said.
Summarising the three-day conference, it was recommended, and passed by the conference, that labour laws should be the same everywhere in all the federating units of the state. “The land reforms should be act upon immediately. There should be proper safety and health measures for workers,” he said.
It was also recommended that a workers’ coordination committee should be constituted to organise workers and bring them all together on a single platform. “The committee, after considering the recommendations of the conference, should then get them implemented.”
It was also recommended that labour conferences like the Sindh Labour Conference should be arranged in all other provinces, while a joint federal-level conference should also be held.
The participants of the conference suggested that all provincial governments should immediately hold the provincial tripartite conferences, bringing together the labours and employers.
The organising committee of the Sindh Labour Conference also announced holding a press conference today (Monday) at the Karachi Press Club regarding the outcomes of the three-day conference.