PWF/JILAF Seminar on Industrial Relations (IR) and Labour Policy in Pakistan

Opening ceremony

On September 20-21, 2021, the Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF), together with the Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF), were able to hold an online seminar on industrial relations (IR) and labour policy with participants in Lahore. In total, there were fifty three participants in attendance.
At the opening ceremony, PWF Secretary General expressed his desire to ask JILAF for cooperation as he hoped to learn about what needs to be done while COVID-19 continues to affect workers. In addition, the Chairman of the PWF’s Steering Committee gave words of encouragement to the participants by urging them to learn thoroughly. Then, on behalf of JILAF Executive Director Takayuki Yagi stated the importance of valuing people and eliminating employment insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the Representative of ILO in Pakistan stated that ILO is responding to COVID-19 through cooperation between the government, labour and management, and that social dialogue is needed for topics including the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain of the medical industry, gender, and relief for vulnerable individuals.

 At the beginning of the seminar, Executive Director Yagi explained the historical background of Japanese society and trade unions, before giving a lecture on the role and challenges of trade unions, from the perspective of building constructive industrial relations and preventing unnecessary industrial disputes. Following this, JILAF Group Leader Naohiro Tsuji then gave an overview of the government's legal response to COVID-19 in Japan, the demands of Japanese trade unions, and the achievements therefrom.
 Next, the PWF Labour Specialist presented and evaluated the Pakistani government's response to COVID-19. Through this, it was revealed that while the Ehsaas program was implemented to provide monetary easing (moratorium on repayments, low interest loans, etc.) for debt relief and unconditional payment of 12,000 Pakistan rupees (a little less than 8,000 yen) per capita, there were no unemployment benefits provided, in contrast to the policy in Japan.
 Afterwards, the Chairman of PWF’s Steering Committee stated what PWF should be doing as a trade union under these circumstances. However, he also commented that society should be involved, in consideration of not only Pakistan but also the whole of South Asia and the existence of migrant workers, and that COVID-19 should be used as an opportunity to bolster the protection for vulnerable individuals.
 On the second day, the seminar began thirty minutes ahead of schedule due to the enthusiastic participants. To start off, the PWF Labour Specialist explained the state of informal workers. He indicated problems such as there being day labourers working at banks, unclear definitions for different types of workers including formal workers, and a lack of widespread knowledge of ILO conventions. In addition, he also pointed out insufficiencies such as the fact that many are employed through intermediaries, commuting accidents are not compensated, the pension scheme is not continuous, and the system for converting to indefinite employment (usually qualified after three months) is not taken seriously. Furthermore, the PWF Labour Specialist mentioned that while unemployment gave rise to crime, regular employment positively impacted people by allowing them to send their children to school. Alongside this, he also gave an introduction to the PWF consultation desk.
 Next, the Chairman of the Steering Committee explained matters such as the Ehsaas program, and revealed that meals are being provided and other such efforts are being made to support migrant workers from Afghanistan.
 At the end of the seminar, following the general comments made by the Chairman of the Steering Committee, Executive Director Yagi expressed his gratitude for the active participation of the participants and his anticipation for their future activities. Afterwards, the PWF President once again thanked JILAF for its efforts in the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed appreciation for the active participation of the young and female officers. Lastly, PWF stated that they intend to continue their activities by referring to what they have learnt from the seminar.

Photos of the Participants

PWF participants 

Question and answer session 

Publication in local media