June 09 - 15, 2008

Federal Cabinet has convened a meeting last week and indicated towards measures inserted in the upcoming federal budget of fiscal year 2008-09. The federal budget is expected to be presented tomorrow on June 10th. One of such measures included principal decision of government to confer permanent status to all federal government contractual employees-having scale in between 1-15-who have accomplished two-year job tenures.

While government considers the necessity of regularizing employees for improving their standards of living private sector's labor force missing proper arms engages regularly in the crucial battle with the depredating inflation.

Following the implementation, contractual employees working in PIA for nine months are also to be regularized. An amendment in the Bill titled 'Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Act-2008 to regularize those contractual employees of PIA, who have completed services of nine months or more have been approved. However, financial implications of regularization of staff are to be studied further.

Many workers to be regularized in PIA are doing jobs for over 15 years on contract and getting non-regular fringe benefits such as individual medical and insurance coverage instead of family, less remunerations and allowances.

Excluding daily wagers who are not entitled to even contractual benefits non-regular staff of state owned airline will be getting privileged designations and facilitations once after execution of the decision, which is fully dependent on outlays allocated for their gross emoluments in the federal budget. The excluded daily wagers of PIA engineering department (especially) perform those risky jobs that even engineers and technicians are frightened to do. Like cleaning of aircraft's fuel tank is considered to be one of the frightening jobs. Against an insignificant payment, these workers like scapegoats do what others can't.

As government is ready to press on an additional burden in the form of regularization on the national treasury, it should have sought a resolution to the problems of non-skilled workers. According to the government relief would be provided to the common man, salaried class, and low income group in the budget. It says that it has re-prioritized public sector development programme and social service commitments and would provide relief to the common man. In addition, government assures of budget's capacity to alleviate poverty. Hope for the best! May budget realize its goals successfully.

Perhaps as intended, perks and privileges being presently disseminated to top level contractual management must be rationalized to offset forthcoming financial load on the airline.

In principal the regularization of federal staff has been consented even then the budget would decide the fate of contractual employees at last. Positively if pay scale restructuring would occur- which has a bright prospective-relief to low income group composed of daily wagers and too of unskilled workers serving in private organizations remains far sighted as this government habitually inclines to focus on human resource development of only state-run institutions and turn away from regulating non-government companies.

It is commonly observed that few private sector organizations have become sweating shops for unskilled workforce, openly flouting industrial labor laws. Let alone below par salary structure, they have impelling health hazardous environments for their labor force to do jobs in. Their poor salary structure for unskilled workers of minimum Rs. 6,000 (often below) hardly takes affect of multiplier economic effects. Despite daily increment in costs of living, the monthly salary structure very rarely is revised upward contrasting the ballooning consumer price index in an absolute term.

Textile industry consisting of the largest portion of country's labor force has greater proportion of such irregularities. Absorbed multitude of vertical and horizontal production associates, its exploitation scale also is in numbers. Unskilled workers of small and medium sized companies feel more insecurity in terms of income and life risks. They earn only at subsistence level and give performance within scant prerequisites.

Beside, their vulnerability to fall prey to vicissitudes of life is relatively high. Barring scrupulous companies on fingertips, several are catalysts to worst working conditions that are too incapable to guarantee shields before their human capital against the inundations of social and economic threats. While having accustomed to heath and social threats workers serving in the private sector are finding themselves in a dilemma of managing monthly budget in the wake of spiraling food prices.

Being claims bearer of democracy and public servicing, this government has more responsibilities to bring relief for the people of the country at large. In the federal cabinet meeting an amendment was also approved in the Companies (Appointment of Legal Adviser) Act 1974. It is aimed at to provide financial aid to amateur lawyers who confront with pecuniary constraints at the profession startup and to assist the companies in resolving legal matters. Along with, this amendment proposed that every company having at least paid up capital of Rs. 2 million shall be liable to appoint legal adviser. It is an informative fact that higher study aspirants of interior Sindh have been in rapidity opting to law subjects.

Apparently, Cabinet meeting has adroitly resolved the income issues of many segments prominently including skilled workers. But unskilled workforce-the stratum that is worst hit by the soaring food prices-seems to be neglected.

So far so acceptable, yet unfolding-after-budget policy should be incorporated ubiquitous remedies for labor problems at national level. However minutes of the Cabinet meeting reflected priorities of the government and preordained measures to have partaken in the federal budget. Provincial governments need to follow the suit of the federal government of regularizing employees with a step forward to constitute the writ of industrial labor laws both in public and private sector organizations. In addition to this, it would be an appreciable move on the part of provincial governments in their budgets that they ensure an increase of salaries of private workers in conformity with the inflation.