Brands and Alliances

Published in Dawn on September 30th 2018

Every brand has a story to tell, so said some marketing experts. What the experts failed to share is that most brands also have stories to hide. These are the stories of unjust, unlawful treatment of those who create products which are wrapped up in illusions of comfort, grandiosity and pride of possession called ‘brand’ and sold to beguiled consumers.

The stories about brands violating labour and environmental rights in poor developing countries remain on the margins and seldom make it to the mainstream media. Hence I was surprised to read a story recently in The New York Times that a home-based seamstress in Italy — the third largest economy in the EU — is paid €1 for each metre of fabric she stitches. At most she earns €24 for an entire coat which is sold by brands like Louis Vuitton and Fendi for €2,000!

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Labour Rights in Pakistan: Declining Decent Work and Emerging Struggles

This research report was written for the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in 2010. 

This report is on the status of labour rights in the country. It encompasses four elements: fundamental principles and rights at work and international labour standards; employment and income opportunities; social protection and social security; and social dialogue and tripartism.

Click on the link below to view the complete report:

Labour Rights in Pakistan: Declining Decent Work and Emerging Struggles

Labour Rights in Pakistan: Expanding Informality and Diminishing Wages

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.

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Labour Rights in Pakistan: Expanding Informality and Diminishing Wages

Denial and Discrimination: Labour Rights in Pakistan

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.

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Denial and Discrimination: Labour Rights in Pakistan

Religious Minorities in Pakistan: Constitutional Rights and Access to Judicial System

This research report was written for the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in 2013. 

This study, which was co-written by Yasmin Qureshi, sought to examine social and legal aspects impacting on the freedom of religion of the minorities in Pakistan. The constituional provisions, laws and judicial-administrative practices via-a-vis minorities were reviewed. An analysis of the role of the state, identity, religion and ideology in shaping the mindset of the dominant Muslim community was also attempted.

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Religious Minorities in Pakistan: Constitutional Rights and Access to Judicial System

Labour Standards in Football Manufacturing Industry: A Case Study of a Nike Vendor in Sialkot, Pakistan

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.

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Labour Standards in Football Manufacturing Industry: A Case Study of a Nike Vendor in Sialkot

Baldia factory fire: two years after

Published in Dawn, September 11th , 2014

“The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.” — Voltaire

IT has been two years since Pakistan’s worst industrial disaster took place in a garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi on Sept 9, 2012. A fire in the factory that day led to the loss of 259 precious lives and injuries to 55 workers who got trapped in the building because three out of four doors were locked from the outside. Locking the workers inside the premises is not uncommon in garment factories exporting to international buyers. An inquiry report released by the FIA as well as the case proceedings revealed violations of labour laws, safety laws and building by-laws by the factory owners and a number of state institutions.

Two notable aspects of the follow-up to this disaster are the nature of the criminal proceedings in the Sindh High Court (SHC) and the compensation to the bereaved families. Developments in both took place due to the pressure built by civil society organisations.

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Women Workers in Textile/Readymade Garments Sector in Pakistan and Bangladesh

This research report was written as a project undertaken by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) in collaboration with South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) and was published in 2009.

This brief paper attempts to investigate the status of women workers in textile/apparel industries of Pakistan and Bangladesh, and explore the extent of mobilization and organization of women workers in the context of weakened trade unionism in the two countries. The study seeks to analyze the nature and extent of women’s contestation of barriers
and negotiation of space as defined through the institutionalized mechanisms of control and cultural barriers in the Muslim societies of the two countries.

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Women Workers in Textile/Readymade Garments Sector in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Road Transport Workers in Pakistan

This research report was written for Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Karachi and was published in 2006.

This study presents an overview of road transport sector work environment, labour relations and working conditions and examines workers’ response to address some of the issues relating to social security through collective action. Methodology includes literature review and assessment through informal discussions with a select number of transport workers/operators, representatives of transport workers’ unions/organizations/federations, and private transport companies.

Excerpt:

Mustachioed, grim-faced, 44-year-old Najibullah Khan is on the road for the last 29 years. He works  as a driver on long distance route—Karachi to Islamabad. “I get Rs. 1500 per trip. A trip takes 26-27 hours. I make about 6 trips a month and that adds up to Rs. 9000 per month”. Born in a village in Musakhel, Mianwali, Najib dropped out of school after class 6 and was pushed into the labour market as a child. Initially he worked as bus cleaner and helper. When he got his license at 18, he took to driving. In 1973 he came to live in Karachi where he shares a rented accommodation with another person. 

Najib’s family members (parents, wife and 5 children) work as sharecropper in the village. These days he is paying a monthly installment of Rs. 1000 to the money lender for a loan of Rs. 10,000 he took to help his family buy agricultural inputs. “There is one more driver along with me in the bus, and we take turns after 4-5 hours of driving, taking 2-3 hours rest in between. After each trip I am off the bus for 24 hours and busy with maintenance of the vehicles and carry out related errands. I get little time to spend with my family whom I visit fortnightly.” For Najib, there are no holidays, no medical or other facilities and no social security.

Click on the link below to view the full report:

Road Transport Workers in Pakistan

The Flood Affected Population in Sindh Rebuilding Lives and Livelihoods: The Case for Structural Reforms

This research report was written for Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Karachi and was published in January, 2011.

Pakistan’s devastating floods caused by extraordinary rainfall in July-Sept 2010 affected over 20 million people, causing 1,985 deaths and injuries to 2,946 people. The floods wreaked havoc, washed away crops and rural settlements, flooded towns and urban centres, damaged roads, bridges and irrigation canals, schools, hospitals and all social and physical infrastructures. The disaster led to unprecedented displacement of 1,550,000 people from flooded areas to dry places, mostly nearer homes and to urban centres in the home districts. A large number of people from the affected districts in Sindh, took refuge in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad. The families who had resources, assets and support systems in dry districts cities stayed with their relatives and friends. The majority of the IDPs who lost their abodes, meagre assets and means of livelihoods had to take refuge in shelters and makeshift camps put up by the provincial governments, NGOs and international humanitarian agencies. The displaced persons in the camps overwhelmingly belonged to the lowest stratum of society.

In addition to relief work, PILER undertook a profiling and livelihood needs assessment survey to gauge socio-economic indicators and the livelihood status of the IDPs prior to the floods and get an idea of their future plans and aspirations. The objectives were to share the findings with relevant stakeholders (i.e. state, civil society, resource institutes) for possible linkages that would facilitate the IDPs in the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase and provide a basis to the PILER advocacy inputs towards a rehabilitation plan that commits to upgrading the living and work conditions of the IDPs and facilitate their access to fundamental rights and citizenship based entitlements.

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The Flood Affected Population in Sindh  – Rebuilding Lives and Livelihoods: The Case for Structural Reforms