KARACHI: In response to the Baldia Town factory fire in Karachi, the Sindh Department of Labor, Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) and Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) with the technical support of International Labor Organization (ILO) validated and officially launched a Joint Action Plan (JAP) to promote workplace safety and health here on Friday.
According to ILO News, the JAP is framed around three main areas of intervention: (i) Occupational Safety and Health — Legislation and OSH issues; (ii) Labor Inspection — Role of labor inspection to promote safe work; and (iii) Work Injury Insurance Scheme — Existing social protection practices.
The JAP also clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders. It was put together by a Joint Action Plan Working Group with representation from ILO’s constituents including government, employers, workers organizations and other stakeholders including buyer community, donors, civil society and media.
ILO Country Director Francesco d’Ovidio in his statement said that there is an urgent need for a joint high level steering committee to come together and develop an operational framework to implement the joint action plan. Human and financial resources must be allocated to ensure that the implementation is effective and results oriented.
While narrating his tragic story of becoming a victim of the inferno, Zohaib shared that the skills training that he has been a part of is a unique experience in which he was sensitized on workers’ rights, equality, decent work and how maintaining OSH and adhering to standard operating procedures of OSH increases workers performance and productivity.
After the psycho-social trauma Zohaib and his family faced, Zohaib decided to put a bold face to his problem and joined the training course run by ILO at Pakistan Readymade Garments Technical Training Institute (PRGTTI) on Quality Control and Assurance.
After three months of training, Zohaib got an alternate employment and is being paid a decent income in which he is now looking after the house and at the same time pursuing his graduation. Zohaib says he wants to be a ray of hope for all such youth who is disenfranchised and has no counseling.
The Sindh Labor Department will develop an OSH policy to clearly define parameters of safe and healthy workplaces, told Wasim Ahmed Ursani, secretary, Sindh Labor Department. It is important to ensure a clear course of action on OSH in which roles are clearly distributed and responsibilities, he said, taking a stern stance on implementation of labor laws and assured full implementation of the Joint Action Plan with letter and spirit.
Representative of Employers Federation of Pakistan U R Usmani also stated at the event that it is the employers moral obligation to implement OSH practices to their workplaces, the Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) will develop a ‘Code of Conduct for Employers’ and will disseminate the same to maximum number of employers in the province. The EFP will also take the responsibility to enforce and monitor the adherence to code of conduct in collaboration with relevant industrial associations.
Pakistan Workers Federation General Secretary Zahoor Awan stressed on the role of workers and said that workers demand to ensure preserving ‘human dignity’ while distributing social security benefits and compensations. Additionally they stressed that labor inspection should be made more participatory, autonomous and effective in terms of coverage of informal economy workers.
The JAP also includes the establishment of a tripartite OSH Council in Sindh — as an autonomous and apex body to promote coordination among key stakeholders for improving working conditions and elimination of safety and health hazards at workplaces. The OSH Council will recommend for improvement and upgrading response mechanism to the provincial government through Labor Department and will also advise relevant government departments in line with OSH policy and will recommend for ratification of ILO conventions on OSH.
In order to maintain and enhance Pakistan’s trade competitiveness and improving business opportunities, there is a greater need to implement this joint action plan and ILO along with the government will approach international partners for their positive engagements in this process.