Social welfare coverage to six million industrial
and agricultural workers
Nov ,12 - 18, 2001
The Minister for Labour and Manpower, Omar Asghar
Khan at a press conference in Islamabad last week, made public the
draft Labour Policy to elicit opinion and feedback of the stakeholders
before finalisation. He hoped to enforce the new policy by year end.
Giving salient features of the 16 pages draft
Labour Policy, the Minister said that it has been prepared keeping in
view the constitutional requirements and ILO Conventions about
fundamental rights, rights of association and social protection. The
aims and objectives of the draft labour policy include institutional
reforms, simplification and consolidation of labour laws, reformation
of labour judiciary, extended coverage of laws and welfare measures to
the agricultural and informal sectors. It also aims at eradication and
rehabilitation of child labour and bonded labour, safe and hygienic
working environment, strengthening of healthy and demographic trade
unionism and development labour market information system.
Omar Asghar Khan said social welfare coverage would
be extended from three point eight million workers and their
dependants to six million industrial and agricultural workers
dependants. Seventy-four labour laws have been simplified and
consolidated into six laws. Labour Appellate Tribunals would be wound
up and Labour Courts will be strengthened. Arbitration will be made
compulsory in industrial disputes. Measures would be taken to improve
the trade union and collective bargaining structure and evolve an
effective mechanism for the registration of trade unions. The
federations will be rated according to the number of CBA affiliations.
He said tripartite district committees are being
set up to ensure implementation of the labour policy. One of the key
objective of the labour policy is to provide universal social
protection to workers in the formal and informal sectors.
In reply to a question he said the cabinet has
approved an action plan to eliminate the child and bonded labour. The
success of our efforts in the soccer industry has been recognised at
the international level where the child labour has been totally
eliminated. The engagement of workers on contract would be
discouraged. Another important feature of the labour policy is to
improve the role and contribution of women in the labour force and to
provide them equal opportunities for employment. He said the mine
workers will be covered by employees old age benefit and social
security schemes to ensure much needed social protection to mine
The Labour Minister said in the next few weeks the
Ministry will receive feedback from various stakeholders and will
present final draft to the federal cabinet in December this year for
approval. He told mediamen that over the last two years, the
government has initiated a comprehensive labour reforms programme.
The Minister said the policy also reflects
different articles of the Constitution including fundamental rights,
right of associations, social protection, Islamic values of justice
besides ILO conventions ratified by Pakistan. He said now
international labour standards are becoming more important especially
with market access perspectives and added the government has adopted a
number of measures to meet the challenges of globalisation. Omar said
that government under the policy would extend coverage of labour laws
and social welfare measures for benefit of workers.
Before announcing the draft policy, as an interim
measure, the government has already amended 7 labour laws with
retrospective effect from 1st July, 2001. An announcement to this
effect was made by the federal labour minister on 7 October, 2001.
Besides these, the West Pakistan Minimum Wages for Unskilled Workers
Ordinance, 1969 has also been amended with effect from 1st
The salient features of these amendments are;
increase in the wage ceilings for application of certain laws from Rs.
3,000 to Rs. 5,000 and introduction of "Self-assessment
scheme" in the Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance,
1965 and the Employees' Old-Age Benefits Act, 1976. Moreover, the
system of employees' share in the monthly contribution payable by the
employers, has been revived in the Social Security Ordinance and
introduced in the Employees Old-Age Benefits Act for the first time.
The employees share in both these laws will be Rs. 20/- per month, per
This is the third time over the last 16 years that
the wage ceiling has been revised. In 1985, it was increased from Rs.
1,000 to Rs. 1,500 again in 1993 from Rs. 1,500/- to Rs. 3,000 and now
from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000. This revision has been necessitated due
to inflationary factors and increase in salary of employees in
industrial and commercial establishments. The recent increase by 67
per cent in wage ceiling from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000 may appear to be
high but is reasonable as it has been carried out after eight years.
If this exercise is done by the government gradually after every two
or three years, the employers may not feel its impact so much.