Civil Society, labour leaders decry CJP’s statement against trade unions

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KARACHI: Various civil society, trade unions and labour supporting organizations of Pakistan have urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Mian Saqib Nisar to take back his statement regarding the trade unions during a hearing, in which he had reportedly said that had he got powers and trade unions were not part of the Constitution, he would have banned trade unions because they have destroyed the institutions.

In a joint letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan the labour organizations have termed the statement as damaging to the movement of workers and trade unions.

“Because of your observations against the trade unions millions of the workers can be deprived of their rights of association, which is a fundamental right under the Article 17 of the Constitution,” the letter stated.

“You are the guardian of the Constitution and if you pass such a statements, then how will those institutions provide justice, which are usually exploiting the workers for the last 70 years,” the text of the letter reads.

They also called upon the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan to constitute an independent commission to investigate that who have destroyed the institutions,” the letter said adding that due to the CJP observation trade unions fear that the situation may go even worse for workers in the institutions.

The heads of the institutions have already violated the laws and if such statements come from the head of apex court then which institute of the country will provide justice to poor workers, they asked. “The proposed commission be asked to point out the violations of the Constitution on a large scale in the history of the country,” the letter added.

They appreciated an earlier decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in which the honourable court had given the verdict on the application submitted by the National Bank of Pakistan and PSO against third party contract, daily wages and contract workers, which gave a new hope to the workers. Through this hopeful verdict the trade unions of all over the country, journalists and civil society organizations had expressed satisfaction that the rights of the workers are protected in the Constitution and the law. The Supreme Court verdict had declared the recruitment on contract against the Constitution and law.

The civil society and labour leaders stated that due to non implementation of the article 17 of the Constitution, the workers are exploited on a large scale and it is also violation of the ILO’s Conventions No. 87 and 98 which cause a bad name for the county on the international level. Under the GSP-Plus agreement the Pakistan state is responsible to act upon the core Conventions of ILO and if the state is not abiding these Conventions then the GSP plus status may be terminated. It is cause of concern that that the state is violating the GSP Plus agreement by usurping the workers’ rights and silence of state’s institutions and honourable court over this violation is an indicator of an alarming situation.

Those who have signed the statement included Liaqut Ali Sahi Democratic Workers Union of State Bank of Pakistan; Karamat Ali, Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER); Afzal Butt, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ); Abdul Aziz Abbasi, Watan Dost Mazdoor Federation; Shafiq Ghauri, Sindh Labour Federation; Nasir Mansoor, National Trade union Federation; Saeed Khan, Peoples Labour Union SSGC; Yousuf Mustikhan, Individual; Jalil Shah, Port Workers Labour Union; Abdul Hai, Child and Labour Rights Welfare Organization; Hassan Athar,