Post-2015 Development Agenda: statement from Pakistan Workers’ Federation

The Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF) is pleased to put forward the following points for consideration in developing ‘Post-2015 Development Agenda

1. According to global statistics, Pakistan is the 6th largest population and 9th largest workforce in the world. It is not only providing sufficient workforce to the Pakistani ‘Employers’ (in all sectors) but also feeding international job-market. Due to a demographic dividend, majority of this workforce is young, energetic and full of potential.

2. It has been acknowledged in a number of international forums, including the 2005World Summit, the 2006 UN Economic and Social Council, the UN Chief Executives Board of 2007 and by the UN Commission for Social Development, that making full, productive, employment intensive and decent employment for all should be a central objective of relevant national and international policies and development strategies is the main route out of poverty for the world’s poor. The United Nations system has endorsed the Decent Work Agenda as contributing significantly to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and in particular target 1B of MDG 1.

3. Due to a number of crises and most importantly the improper and poor governance in the country, Pakistan could not tread well on the MDG Targets and has lagged behind on various counts – some of them are as follows:

a. There is relatively high employment-to population ratio of almost 80 percent for men (15+) as they point towards a likely abundance of low quality jobs in the country.

b. Overall, men seem to benefit more from improvements in the labour market. In 2010-2011, the share of men with a wage and salaried job was at 41.2 percent, almost double that of females, at 21.6 percent, reflecting a situation in which the few wage and salaried jobs that are created tend to go to men rather than women.

c. Roughly six out of ten employed people in Pakistan (61.6 percent) in 2010-2011 were considered to be vulnerable, meaning “at risk of lacking decent work”. The large share of female vulnerability (78.3 percent) needs special attention.

d. Also of concern is the large share of youth vulnerability (60.9 percent). Although often better skilled than the rest of the labour force, young people seem to face similar labour market difficulties as adults.

e. Pakistan has seen very low labour productivity over the last decade. In addition the relatively low growth in labour productivity has not gone hand in hand with the increasing labour force and employment growth. This development suggests that many new labour market entrants are taking on low-productivity, poorly remunerated work

4. On top of it, the labour movement in the country has also witnessed some unhealthy events unfolding during the last few years. These are:

a. Deterioration of law and order situation and energy crisis has compelled closure of businesses – consequently hitting the poor labour-force

b. Continuous rise of ‘informal’ employment in the country with minimum job security and better working conditions

c. Lack of consideration towards ‘Safety and Health’ of workers – resulting in a country’s largest factory fire accident in Karachi on 11th Sept 2012.

d. Continuous devaluation of national currency and subsequent increasing prices of commodities has resulted in lowering labour productivity and capacity to cope with economic pressures

e. Inadequate implementation of labour laws particularly the right to organize and bargain collectively forcing the workforce out of their fundamental right to secure decent living and working conditions through collective bargaining agreements.

5. Keeping this national situation in mind and looking at the global scenario, the Pakistan Workers’ Federation is pleased to put forward the following points for consideration in developing ‘Post-2015 Development Agenda’:

a. ‘Inclusive Economic Growth and Decent Employment’ to be prioritized and measures be adopted to continuously monitor every country based on specific indicators to improve employment opportunities and working conditions for millions of workers across the globe

b. ‘Rule of Laws and implementation of Laws’ to be prioritized as many countries make sufficiently higher number of laws but don’t implement them in letter and spirit particularly Industrial Relations Laws to guarantee the rights available under ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

c. ‘Investment on Human Resource Development’ should also be prioritized and apart from developing ‘market-based strategies’, some basic standards need to be developed to measure workers’ performance while keeping in view their specific challenges.

d. ‘Promote Democratic Values’ should be prioritized to enable the disenfranchised segments of society to get together, voice their concerns and take collective actions against any exploitation taking place with them.

e. ‘Promote Culture of Research and Accurate Data Collection’ should be prioritized as many human problems do not sufficiently get addressed in a proper manner due to non-availability of relevant data and research on the subject.

Article by PWF