PWF/JILAF Industrial Relations Seminar in Pakistan
On December 10 to December 11, the Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF), together with the Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF), held an industrial relations seminar in Lahore, Pakistan. The seminar was attended by 115 people, including leaders of trade unions nationwide.
PWF aims to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace and has made working to ratify ILO Convention No. 190 a key policy of the labour movement. The two-day seminar was held with the objective of focusing on establishing constructive industrial relations, ensuring employment security, preventing harassment caused by gender issues in the workplace, and other matters that pertain to the role of trade unions in an era of globalisation.
At the beginning of the seminar, JILAF President Yasunobu Aihara first extended his condolences to those affected by the large-scale flood damage in Pakistan, and expressed the significance of holding the seminar while touching on the social issues that face Japan. Next, PWF President Nasim Iqbal Chaudhary made opening remarks by stating his appreciation for JILAF’s long-standing support of the high need for occupational health and safety in Pakistani workplaces, and expressing his strong desire to once again hold invitation programs in Japan. Following this, JILAF Counselor Koji Kogure, the Government of Punjab’s Department of Labour, ILO specialists, and the Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) each gave their own opening remarks.
Continuing on, JILAF Programme Manager Takeru Kato presented JILAF’s recent activities, then Counselor Kogure gave a brief lecture titled “Recent Labour Situation in Japan,” in which he outlined (1) Japan’s responses to its declining birthrate and aging population, as well as (2) Japan’s labour and social security legislation. Afterwards, participants asked questions about the Japanese government’s responses to COVID-19, such as their compensation for absence from work, along with Japan’s mandatory retirement system and childcare/maternity leave system, etc.
In addition, Jawad Syed, who is a professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, gave a report about the trade union position paper for ILO Convention No. 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, while Arooma Shahzad, the General Secretary of the PWF Domestic Workers Union (participant of the 2016 South Asian Women’s Team), gave a report about the recent trade union campaign for ratifying Convention No. 190.
On the second day, former PWF General Secretary Zahoor Awan explained how JILAF has been deeply involved in developing the labour movement in Pakistan. After this, an individual who was a participant of the 2022 Pakistan-Mongolia Team (online program) as well as a participant of the HINOPAK Motors Trade Union shared their experiences of the invitation programs with the other seminar participants.
Next, ILO Gender Specialist Aya Matsuura gave a presentation titled “Vulnerable Workers in the Informal Economy, ILO Convention No. 190, and the Promotion of Gender Equality,” in which she shared with all the participants the ILO’s approach to gender equality, as well as basic concepts for gender equality, such as definitions of violence and harassment.
JILAF Counselor Koji Kogure then gave a presentation titled “Business and Human Rights,” in which he introduced the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO’s Core Labour Standards, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and examples of Global Framework Agreements, then followed up with describing the roles and expectations that are required of trade unions.
Furthermore, Programme Officer of the ILO Pakistan Office Razi Mujtaba Haider gave a presentation titled “The Role of Trade Unions in Ensuring Employment Security in Pakistan,” during which he expressed, “Trade unions should focus on workers’ rights and human rights, and use various objective data such as the gender wage gap to negotiate with management.”
Afterwards, EFP Deputy General Secretary Kahwaja Javaid Akhtar, who is also the President of Forward Gear, a subcontractor of a major sporting goods manufacturer, along with PWF President Nasim Iqbal Chaudhary signed a joint letter addressed to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that requests for the ratification of ILO Convention No. 190.
At the end, former PWF General Secretary Zahoor Awan looked back on the two-day seminar and expressed, “Since the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to an end, we definitely want to send our young union activists to Japan for next year’s invitation program. We would also like to resume the POSITIVE program for improving working environments, and have JILAF cooperate in creating checklists for the construction industry and so forth.”