HRCP consultation calls for a crash plan to secure workers rights

Press Release, May 16

Karachi: Legislation necessary for the implementation of the recently, ratified International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, immediate convening of tripartite labor conference to remove the impediments to the enforcement of the workers’ rights, adoption of a plan for land reform, so as to protect the rights of the tenants and cultivators, and speedy acceptance of the charter of labor rights adopted by workers representatives on March 30, are the main recommendations of a broad based consultation with representatives of workers and fisher folk organizations, sponsored by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in Karachi today.

The meeting attended by nearly one hundred representatives of trade unions, fisher folk forum and human rights activists, welcomed the government decision to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and demanded speedy adoption of legislation so that the people of Pakistan could realize the rights recognized in the covenant. The participants specially emphasized the need to recognize the right to work, which includes the right to work of one’s choice, the rights of workers to their economic development, the right to safe and healthy working conditions, the right to form trade unions, women’s right to equal wages for equal work, and the right to social security.

The meeting endorsed the labor charter adopted by labor organizations in March this year and suggested that priority should be given to withdrawal of all restraints on the right to form unions, extension of social security network, consolidation of labor laws as recommended by the Shafi-ur-Rehman commission, implementation of ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labor and revision of ILO 2002 to bring this law in harmony with workers’ inalienable rights. In the opinion of the participants the implementation of the Bonded Labor System Abolition Act needed to be reviewed. It was necessary to provide for the settlement of liberated haris. They had a right to be allotted land so that they could utilize their skills.

The meeting strongly urged the government to immediately convene a tripartite labor conference to resolve issues concerning the country’s work force.

The meeting regretted that little was being said about the plight of agricultural workers, tenants and landless peasants. The meeting called for a new land utilization policy, fixation of a fair ceiling on land holdings and distribution of land among men and women who till the land. The government was also asked to ensure implementation of the ILO convention on the agricultural workers right to form union.

The government was also urged to pay serious attention to the continued exploitation of Pakistan’s fisher folk. The policy of handing over sea-shore to so called developers was severely criticized along with the policy of favoring foreign fishing organizations at the cost of the country’s fishing community.

Secretary General HRCP

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