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"Developing a basis for wage increase" Ahsan Ullah Khan

Nov 05 - 11, 2001

"The idea of establishing an effective link between Employers and workers was initiated about 12 years back during the period when I was Vice Chairman of the SITE Association of Industry. Few moderate Trades Union Leaders desirous of such linkage joined in the efforts and the idea was floated during a joint meeting. It was termed as difficult generally but the like minded team continued its efforts and after long and painful efforts a group was formed which continued discussion and finally met on 12th July, 2000 to finalize and agree on a Memorandum of understanding and form the "WEBCOP", (Workers Employers Bilateral Council of Pakistan). This was stated by Mr. Ahsan Ullah Khan, founder convener of WEBCOP, in an interview with this correspondent.

Answering a question, Mr. Ahsan Ullah Khan said, WEBCOP formed and established to promote the aims and objectives such as; Generating employment opportunities and promoting employability of abundantly available workforce in the market; Removing impediments in the way of speedy indutrialization and sound industrial relations at the enterprise as well as at the national level; Achieving a balance between the rights and obligations of industrial partners; Developing a basis for wage increase in the organized sector without interference in the process of collective bargaining; Promoting productivity and quality improvement efforts at the enterprise and national level in order to fully meet the challenges of globalization and other environmental changes; Improving quality of life for the working class by establishing a linkage between the pace of economic development and quantum of social benefits; Developing at the enterprise level effective participative culture through bilateral consultation and dialogue on matters relating to industrial relations, productivity, safety, health, investment, employement and socio-economic benefits; and Promoting agro-based industry with the purpose to obtain prosperity for the rural workers and improve quality of their life."

Mr. Ahsan Ullah Khan, who is also vice president of Employers Federation of Pakistan, and Chairman of Skill Development Council, Karachi, said," Today the world is debating the need of Social Dialogue between the three stakeholders, the Government, Employers and Workers. It was a great surprise for the international community to learn of Pakistan efforts in forming WEBCOP. In a recently concluded meeting organized by ILO, Germany and Japan at Katmandu on Social Dialogue, Pakistan's achievement was recognized and appreciated as the only example in the world of bilateral effort without the assistance of Government. Delegates however recommended Government financial assistance for such a move and official recognition."

He said," Our goals are," For employement generation local manufacturing to be encouraged and Zero Duty Raw Materials be provided to both formal and informal sectors; Commercial import of Industrial Raw Materials for trading must not be allowed; Duty differential be maintained between Raw Material and finished import at 20% minimum, Zero Taxation policy on investment with no restrictive hurdles; Zero Taxation Policy on Human Capital Development efforts; Zero Duty on import of Machinery and Tools/ Spare Parts be allowed to boost industrial growth and productivity; Low Income Tax rates on workforce; The economy must be documented."

Mr. Ahsan Ullah Khan told that a delegation of WEBCOP, headed by himself and comprising Mrs. Kaneez Fatima, co-convenor, Prof. Shafi Malik secretary and Mr U.R. Usmani, joint Secretary, called upon the Chief Executive of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf, on 30th April, 2001 at Islamabad's Chief Executive House. Mr. Omar Asghar Khan, Federal Minister for Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, and Mr. Farhat Hussain, Secretary Labour, manpower and overseas Pakistanis, were also present on the occasion.

The chief executive appreciated the efforts of WEBCOP, and agreed to be the Patron of Training in Pakistan (National Training Burea/Ministry of Labour), and boost the working standards of training in accordance with the Employement Market; Chief Executive doubled the amount of reward to be offered to the winners of Skill Competitions by National Training Burearu and Skill Development Council;"

"The Chief Executive assured Government support to all efforts of WEBCOP and Skill Development Council in pre and post education training to ensure competitiveness increasingly being based not on low wages or natural resources but on knowledge, innovation, skill and productivity and to develop ability to organize information, moneyed people and other resources across national boundaries;" he added.

Mr. Ahsan Ullah Khan informed that the Chief Executive was very appreciative of the proposal by WEBCOP on effective bilateral participation in all tripartite forums involving the employers, workers and the government, with special emphasis on tripartite welfare authorities.

The Chief Executive was very appreciative of the idea of Private, Public Partnership to ensure good governance, and on the Child Labour Training Programme, initiated by the ministry of labour with skill development council; for four-year training and certification; WEBCOP's assistance in Labour reforms laws and confidence building, minimum wage and social welfare measures;"

"WEBCOP", delegation informed the Chief Executive of the problem of four ministries the labour, education, industry and science and technology working parallel without coordination. The chief executive was also informed of an International Conference by UNESCO in Korea recommending all member countries to maintain a liaison between the ministries and Ministry of Labour was recommended as the coordinating Ministry. It was recommended by the WEBCOP delegation to develop and adopt measures to encourage formal and informal sectors growth, and to introduce collective cooperation in corporate projects to assist employement, self employment in the industrialization and specifically in agriculture sector. It was proposed by the WEBCOP to encourage zero duty raw materials for the industry and to maintain a 20% differential between Custom duties on industrial raw material and flnished products. Similarly import incentives on machinery, tools, spare parts and low income tax rates on salaries was also requested. Chief Executive appreciated the delegation's recommendations on documentation of the economy and revenue generation through value added taxes and not import duty." The WEBCOP Convenor further added.

The other founder members of WEBCOP are included, Trade Union Representatives; Muhammad Sarif, S.P. Lodhi, Nabi Ahmed, Kaneez Fatima, Khursheed Ahmed, Prof. Shafi Malik, Saleem Raza, Khalilur Rehman, Karamat Ali, Abdul Aziz Memon, Abdul Ghafoor Baloch, Waqar A. Memon, Gul Rehman, Rana Mahmood Ali Khan, Zaheer Taj, Zahoor Awan, Abdul Rahim Mirdad Khail, and Malik Mohammad Aslam, while Employer's representatives are included, Faseehul Karim Siddiqui, U.R.Usmani, Prof. M. Mateen Khan, S. Tanveer Mohd, Majyd Aziz, Zubair Habib, A.H. Haidri, Tajammul Hussain, Haji Muhammad Javed, Parvez Malik, Razak Bengali, M.Yakub Karim Darbar, Arshad Tanveer, Abdul Aziz Memon, Hossain Malik, Iftikhar Mahmood Randhawa, and Muhammad Mustafa Sharif. There are some neutral Experts, such as, M.L. Shahani, former Judge Sindh High Court; Haq Nawaz Akhtar, former federal secretary and ex.chairman Pakistan Steel; Muhammad Hussain Bhutto, former federal secretary labour and Raees Ahmed Jaffery.

WEBCOP, Provincial chapters are consisted like Islamabad/ Rawalpindi's convenor is Imtiaz Ali Rastgar, co-convenor, Zahoor Awan, secretary Zafarullah, joint secretary Aslam Bhutta and coordinator, S.Z.A. Jaffri. Punjab chapter's convenor is Iftikhar Mahmood Randhawa, co-convenor, Ch.Gulzar Ahmed, secretary, Mohammad Yakub, and joint secretary, Harris Noorani, Sindh chapter's Convenor is, Prof. M. Mateen Khan, co-convenor, Salin Raza, secretary, Qammarul Hassan, and joint secretary, A.H. Haidri, NWFP Chapter's convenor is Haji Mohammad Javed, co-convenor Gul Rehman, secretary, Liaquat Ali Shah, and joint secretary Muhammad Ayub Khan, Balochistan Chapter's covenor, Razzak Bengali, co-convenor Azam Khan Zarkoon, sec, Khalilur Rehman.