This report was written for the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in March 2015.
The task of capturing the status of labour in all its diverse aspects is onerous. Particularly in a country where the State keeps shedding its responsibilities of regulation, documentation, inspection, and monitoring of the complex world of work, where culture is heavily tilted towards oral tradition rather than written, where informal economy is the norm and where social justice and human and labour rights lay at the bottom of the policy-makers’ agenda.
Despite constraints to acquiring accurate data, useful insights and analyses, and with limited resources, PILER, in recent years, has initiated to review the changing trends in labour and employment, and the factors impacting on workers’ lives and the terms and conditions of work. The review also documents the workers’ struggles to confront repressing forces let loose by deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation.
This report, fourth in the series, is yet another modest attempt to put together glimpses of the world of work in Pakistan and present a picture of the current status of labour in the country. The first section of the report, based on secondary research, gives an overview of the socio-economic and political context, human development indicators, legislative development, labour market indicators and the existing terms and conditions of employment. The second section of the report pres- ents a collection of research articles, case studies, and analyses of trends and issues related to labour and employment. PILER is greatly indebted to the researchers and writers who contributed to this section.
THE low priority accorded to labour is reflected in the timing of the release of the Sindh Labour Policy 2018: a morsel of hope thrown to the people just before the next round of voting begins in July. So egalitarian is the document that you’d think had the government come up with it a few years earlier, the province might be treading the path towards an economy “where assets and incomes are distributed equally” and society is “free from exploitation” as the document spells out the aims of the policy.
The fact that we, the people, excel in surviving on the government’s promises and our own grit, and keep hoping for a better future, was validated by the sentiments of the employers’ and workers’ representatives who played a key role in developing the labour policy. The workers’ representatives are happy that the policy is ‘rights-based, participatory and inclusive’ and embodies the principles outlined in the country’s Constitution and international conventions.
‘Let the sky fall, when it crumbles, we will stand tall and face it all together.’ — Skyfall, Adele
Natural disasters aside, white-collar workers can’t even imagine the sky falling down on us, literally, while we are at work. Neither can they imagine what happens in that flicker of a second, and thereafter, to the body and soul of the workers on whom the roof crumbles as they toil for a pittance, or to the families when their dear ones die or are injured. ‘Standing tall and facing it all together’ seemingly is not in our collective ethos. Hence, incidents of factory collapse hardly make a ripple in the power corridor or in society’s consciousness.
This research report was written for the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in 2011.
The report highlights the absence of pro-labour strategies in the country’s economic design. It also highlights the destruction caused by the floods in 2010 and 2011. Consequently, the poor face further deprivation and 2.5 million affectees remain deprived of access to food, water, shelter and healthcare facilities. The flood affectees and working poor of the country do not have decent employment and the state has failed in rehabilitating them. The situation is worsened by an economic policy that relies heavily on exports.
This research report was written for the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in 2007.
The report assesses the working conditions and employment situation in Pakistan. Apart from the secondary sources of media reports and internet, the report includes the input obtained through surveys, rapid assessments and sector profiles not to mention the national conventions of workers in the textile, brick kilns, transport, construction and light engineering sectors organised by PILER in 2005.
This research report was written for Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Karachi and was published in June, 2009.
This report is the result of a PILER Project on the terms and conditions that retrenched football stitchers worked under, as well as their present circumstances. It stresses on providing football stitchers with legal aid and capacity-building support, as well as facilitating the emergence of a tripartite institutional mechanism for labour standards compliance and monitoring in Sialkot.
“How many crooked, out-of-the-way, narrow, impassable, and devious paths has humanity chosen…” — Nikolai Gogol (Dead Souls)
While Karachi remains sunk in its turbulence and political convolutions, the rural citizenry of Sindh has its own woeful tales to tell. They are hidden from urbanites, different in contours but similar in theme — extortion, abuse of political power, violations of laws and procedures. What makes these stories different is the undercurrent of rebellion and a quest for the straight path instead of succumbing to the crooked and devious.