Dear High Commissioner
Expiry of Industrial Relations Ordinance 2011
On behalf of the TUC General Council, I write to express our serious concern over the legal vacuum likely to result at the federal level regarding industrial relations in Pakistan at the expiry of the Industrial Relations Ordinance on 17 March 2012.
Our understanding is that matters involving industrial relations have been devolved to the provinces pursuant to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Moreover, a ruling by the Supreme Court on 2 June 2011 abolished the role of the National Industrial Relations Commission, as the relevant federal legislation had ceased to exist. The legal vacuum at the federal level was filled in by the promulgation of the Industrial Relations Ordinance 2011 which was extended by a National Assembly Resolution on 17 November, 2011, is now set to expire on 17 March, 2012.
If the Parliament does not act before 17 March 2012 to prevent the expiration of the National Industrial Relations Commission, trade unions at the federal level will once again cease to exist. If this were to occur, Pakistan would be in violation of its commitments under ILO Convention No 87 on Freedom of Association and No 98 on Right of Collective Bargaining. Indeed, the Committee of Experts and the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) both raised concerns regarding the lapse of the IRA 2008 and the absence of legislation regarding national, industry-wide trade unions in 2011. Failure to act is likely to bring Pakistan before the CAS again in 2012.
Further, compliance with core labor rights is a condition of trade preference programs in both the United States and European Union. Non-compliance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 could trigger GSP petitions at international level and lead to the withdrawal of trade preferential treatment. Therefore, the regulation of relations between employer and workers, at all levels, especially at the Federal level, becomes a critical aspect of facilitating international commerce and trade.
I request you to ensure the adoption of the Federal Industrial Relations Act by the Parliament before 17 March, 2012.
Issued: 22 February, 2012