Pakistan is considered the sixth most populated country in the world. According to Population Census Organization, the estimated population of Pakistan is 167 million. The estimated labor force is 51.78 million. At the same time, the labor force includes all people from ten of age to above. It means that 49.09 million are employed labor force. Of the employed labor force, only 20% of women constitute. The agricultural sector employs around 44% of the workforce. Then 35% of employment is offered by the service sector. And industry and manufacturing employ only 20% of the labor force.

Constitutional Provisions

After the independence, Pakistan adopted British India laws and regulations. Moreover, it adopted the interventionist attitude of the Government to regulate labor-management relationships. Basically, Pakistan is a commonwealth country. That’s the reason it follows common law principles.

Provisions on Labor Rights

Article 11:

  • The forced labor and traffic in person are forbidden.
  • No child below the age of fourteen should be allowed in any factory or mine or any hazardous employment.

Article 17:

  • Every citizen should have the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order, or morality.

Article 18:

  • Every citizen has the right to enter any lawful profession or career. And they can conduct any lawful trade or business.

Article 25:

  • All citizens are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law.
  • There should be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.

Article 27:

  • No citizen should be discriminated against for appointment in the service of Pakistan. In respect of race, religion, caste, sex, or place of birth.

Article 37(e):

  • The state must make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work. And they should ensure children and women are not employed in vocations to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment.

Article 38:

  • The state must secure the well-being of all the citizens—irrespective of sex, caste, creed, or race. And should ensure fair adjustments of rights between employers and employees.
  • Provide for all personnel employed in the service of Pakistan or otherwise, social security by compulsory social insurance or other means.

These are some constitutional provisions on labor rights. There is a detailed description about employment contract and termination, working hours and furthermore. That basically highlights the rights of employees. Even after this, unfair dismissal is observed in Pakistan. And when unfair dismissal law is claimed, no measures are taken place.

Before moving ahead, a brief description of what unfair dismissal law is?

Unfair Dismissal Law

Unfair dismissal law is the common reason for Employment Tribunals. Unfair dismiss is a situation where an employer dismisses an employee. Either in a harsh way or for an unreasonable reason.

Then the employee can claim for unfair dismissal law. For the following reasons:

  • The reason was false.
  • The reason was unfair.
  • The employer was unreasonable. Such as, the employer should have given a notice before the termination.

Moreover, if an employer dismisses an employee for exercising statutory rights. Then it’s also unfair to dismiss. And Employees should immediately contact the commission for measurable actions.

Unfair Dismissal Law in Pakistan

According to a worker, they are always in fear of losing their job. As there is no written contract. Basically, there is a card. That acts as a proof for employment. The factory management takes daily attendance of the workers. And signs out after their shift. This happens in case the record is inspected. So to show that management is complying with the law and regulation.

But the truth is that workers work longer hours. They are not even offered sick leave. And salary is deducted if someone takes off as they are not well. Besides, they don’t offer maternity leave. If a woman becomes visibly pregnant, she is terminated.

There are millions of workers who have become the victim of unfair dismiss. And due to a lack of knowledge and confidence, they never claimed unfair dismissal law.

In recent years, the workers were part of the national conversation. Sadly, always for wrong and tragic reasons.

In May 2017, a protest by Khaadi workers protested countrywide. It’s a popular Pakistani apparel brand. The demonstration highlighted that Khaadi fired 32 workers. Because they were demanding their rights under Pakistani law. Based on reports, workers were working long hours with a salary below the statutory wage. Even the working conditions were harsh and unsanitary. A month later, Khaadi struck a deal with workers. That’s the reason many workers withdrew their complaints. But a year later, a worker addressed that several worker’s grievances are yet not addressed.

In September 2012, Pakistan faced a tragic industrial disaster. The fire was caused in the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi. 255 workers were killed, and more than 100 people were injured. After the investigation, the cause of the fire was confirmed. The reason was series of irregularities and the absence of fire and safety mechanisms. But the heartbreaking news was addressed by a surviving worker. He highlighted that management was attempting to save merchandise. There were no efforts to rescue the workers.

Moreover, the fatal fire highlighted defects in the auditing and certification process. And they immediately informed the management of the factory. But they ignored it and didn’t take any measures. That’s the reason for the deadly fire. But the victims were poor staff and workforce. Sadly, the families that lost their members in the fire didn’t get any compensation. That is entirely an unfair dismissal act. It was the time where the employer should have claimed unfair dismissal law.

Based on such incidents, the reports find that Pakistan’s Government failed to take any actions. They didn’t take any measures on labor rights protection and safety. As a result, workers and employees are experiencing abuse and unfair dismissal law.

Labor Rights Abused

The center of trouble in garment factories is the lack of accountability for poor working conditions. In every factory and company, workers’ rights are violated. The labor force, especially women, experience physical abuse and harassment. Moreover, they are forced for overtime, denial for emergencies, and sick leaves. In several conversations, workers have disclosed that they weren’t supposed to take lunch or toilet breaks.

Besides, an incident proved that factories and companies misuse government benefits. On 1 December 2018, a protest occurred in the training institute of a garment factory. The incident happened in Lahore. The workers said that the company abuses government incentives to set up training institutes.

I think it’s high time that Government should take some serious actions against the unfair dismissal law. To protect and safeguard workers’ rights. Or else the situation would be out of control. And this will lead to some severe problems. That will gradually affect the country’s reputation badly.

Key Recommendations

  • To protect unfair dismissal law, the Government should revise all relevant labor laws. And align them with international labor laws.
  • The Government should raise citizen knowledge about unfair dismissal laws. It can happen through social media, campaigns, and other methods. Through this step, labor will understand their rights. And in the future, maybe they will raise their voice.
  • The Pakistan federal government should investigate worker’s allegations. And prosecute the abusers.
  • The Pakistan government should increase the number of government labor inspectors. Moreover, improve their training. And build incredible procedures for inspection of unfair dismissal law.
  • According to branding services, Government should expand the range of resources. It will help to conduct effortless inspections.