Workers bodies ask for tripartite mechanism to implement relief ordinance

Trade unions, human rights and civil society leaders have demanded the Sindh government implement and monitor the Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020 through a tripartite mechanism as many industries have started removing their workers and others are not paying wages to their workers.

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

“We supported the government’s all pro-workers policies and legislations, 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 asked the joint directors of the Labour department to receive complaints from workers and take actions on them, but they did not properly comply with.

It seems a certain portion of the bureaucracy in the Labour department is not serious about the implementation of the government’s laws. The tripartite mechanism is missing in many cases as this is a mandatory mechanism for policy and law-making, in which representatives of employers, employees and government are included. For implementation and monitoring of the Covid-19 Emergence 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 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 have been arrested in Karachi and Hyderabad.

They said due to the coronavirus lockdown the industries remained closed and many industries in Karachi have started laying off their workers. The provincial government had earlier issued an order which was now given legal cover through Ordinance, barring the industries not to lay off their workers during the lockdown. But most industries are not following the law.

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

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