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Labour leaders demand tripartite mechanism for implementation of COVID-19 ordinance

Karachi

May 22, 2020

In reaction to the lay-offs by several industries during the coronavirus emergency, trade unions, rights activists and civil society groups have demanded that the Sindh government implement and monitor the Sindh COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020 through a tripartite mechanism to ensure that no workers are laid off and they are paid their due wages.

In a joint statement, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) Executive Director Karamat Ali, National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) Secretary General Nasir Mansoor, Peoples Labour Bureau Sindh President Habibuddin Junaidi, Liaqat Sahi of the Democratic Workers Union State Bank of Pakistan, Aurat Foundation Director Mahnaz Rahman, Home-based Women Workers Federation’s Zehra Khan, Farhat Parveen, Zahid Farooq and others condemned the firing on protesting workers and arrests of labour leaders in Sindh’s industrial areas.

“We supported the government’s all pro-workers policies and legislation, but it seems certain quarters in the bureaucracy in the labour department are reluctant to implement these policies and orders,” the joint statement said, adding that the provincial government had told the joint directors of the labour department to receive complaints from workers and take action on them, but they did not properly comply with the government’s directives.

The statement alleged that a certain portion of the bureaucracy in the labour department is seemingly not serious in the implementation of the law. The tripartite mechanism is missing in many cases as this is a mandatory mechanism for policymaking and legislation, in which representatives of employers, employees and government are included. For implementation and monitoring the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, the government has not provided any mechanism to oversee the implementation of the law.

A representative tripartite body be constituted to monitor its proper implementation, the statement demanded.

The labour and civil society leaders also demanded that the government take action against the factory owners who allowed firing on the protesting workers outside their factories. They also demanded the release of labour leaders who had been arrested in Karachi and Hyderabad.

They said due to the coronavirus lockdown, industries had remained closed and many industries in Karachi had started to lay off their workers. The provincial government had earlier issued an order which has now been given a legal cover through an ordinance, barring the industries from laying off their workers during the lockdown but most of the industries are not following the law.

To provide relief to the industries, various incentives have also been provided, including the provision of soft loans from the commercial banks to pay the salaries of the workers, the statement said.