Women Workers Seek Improved Enforcement of Labour Laws in Pakistan

  • WAction Organises Women Workers Convention to Highlight Issues Facing by Women Workers at Workplaces

ISLAMABAD, October 18, 2018: Women Action for Better Workplaces (WAction), a project of Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA), shared the findings of its Monitoring of Workplace Report in a convention here on Thursday that speaks about the dismal situation of enforcement of Labour laws in Pakistan. According to these findings, 52 percent workplaces monitored in five metropolitan cities including Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad do not comply with the provision of legal minimum wage to its women workers. Similarly, more than 50 percent factories and 30 percent workplaces from private and public sector are not giving paid maternity leave to its women workers. The report was compiled on the basis of monitoring of 105 workplaces in the project districts i.e. federal and provincial capitals. Its findings may not reflect the implementation of laws on the workplaces other than those included in the study.

Women workers emphasized the need that the Labour Department must ensure implementation of the Labour laws by making inspection system gender friendly and more efficient. Women Workers’ Alliance, which is operating under WAction for the last 18 months called for improved inspection rules and Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) and inclusion of a specific section in inspection checklist to monitor the compliance of workplaces with maternity and anti-sexual harassment laws in the country.

Mr. Asim Ayub, Director Labour Department, Islamabad, highlighted the efforts of his department and acknowledged that enforcement of Labour laws, despite efforts at various levels, remains a big challenge. He encouraged the Alliance members and women workers to join hands with the Labour Department as the implementation of the law is not possible until the citizens, civil society, employers and the government collectively make efforts to make it happen.

Mr. M. Ziauddin, Chairperson of the Trust for Democratic Education & Accountability who distributed shields among the members of Women Workers’ Alliance for their outstanding performance in their respective districts, acknowledged the need for building such alliances which will highlight the magnificence of the issues facing by the women workers at their workplaces. He also encouraged women workers to formalize these alliances and form a national level grand alliance to take the agenda of women workers’ rights forward with more vigor and zeal.

Zahida Parveen Mughal, one of the very few women union leaders in Pakistan, highlighted the importance of women’s participation in union level activities and emphasized that while it is pertinent that Industrial Relations Acts at Federal and Provincial level need amendments to secure workers’ right to organize, the Labour Departments and the National Industrial Relations Commission, should ensure that they do not register the unions without active participation of women.

Fouzi Rana, who is a member of Women Workers’ Alliance and also the member of Governing Body of National Press Club, Islamabad stated that although media is an important pillar of society to highlight the issues of women workers, however, the media companies themselves are violating the Labour laws. Workers in media firms are not given contracts and without any legal document it is difficult for the workers to demand their rights.

Talking about the ordeal of women workers in the media industry, she highlighted the importance of implementing the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act 2010. She said that sexual harassment is a big problem that creates hostile environment for women at their workplaces. She also highlighted the importance of display of anti-sexual harassment Code of Conduct that is mandatory to be displayed at all workplaces.

Tanzeela Sadaf, a private school teacher and member of Women Workers’ Alliance, shared the situation of women teachers at private schools and said that minimum wage law is violated in most of the private schools and teachers are not given salaries according to the legal provision. Fiza Qureshi another member of Women Workers’ Alliance from Islamabad recited her own poem that she especially wrote for the occasion to highlight the struggle of women workers in Pakistan.

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