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ISLAMABAD: The government is facing troublesome situation with respect to ban on unions in energy sector companies as Public Services International (PSI) has requested ILO’s urgent intervention in respect of the alleged violation of trade union rights of its affiliate Organisation, ie, All Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electric Labour Union with PSI.

In January, 2024, the caretaker government declared public energy sector companies as essential services under section 3 of the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act 1952. In doing so, the caretaker government prohibited all forms of union activities in the power sector, including those involved in the business of generation, distribution and sale of electricity.

‘Electricity being essential service cannot be privatised’

The ILO argues that the measure is illegal as it is said to last for a period of six months, extendable for another six months and it is aimed at undermining union opposition to the government’s existing efforts to privatise key industries.

Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development, in a letter to Secretary Commerce has cited the reference of a letter of International Labour Organization (ILO) Geneva, of March 6, 2024, in which the former has sought views/comments of the Government of Pakistan on a communication from the Public Services International (PSI) of February 29, 2024 addressed to the D.G. ILO, urgently requesting ILO’s intervention regarding alleged violations of trade union rights by the Government.

According to Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis the request specifically concerns the All Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electric Labour Union, a PSI affiliate, with PSI claiming that the government’s (Ministry of Interior) letter of January 26, 2024 to classify the energy sector as an essential service under the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act is an attempt to weaken trade union opposition to industry privatization, arguing that this decision unfairly restricts trade unions’ abilities to defend their interests through industrial actions and the right to strike.

Pakistan has been an active member of the ILO since 1947 and has ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize. By ratifying this convention, the Government of Pakistan has committed to ensuring that the rights enshrined therein are accessible to workers in the country.

Moreover, progress reports concerning the compliance and implementation of the ratified conventions are shared with the ILO supervisory mechanisms, such as the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) and the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA). Additionally, these reports are readily available to our trading partners, including the European Union (EU), regarding Pakistan’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status.

Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis argue that any concerns regarding the implementation of these conventions be promptly addressed and resolved, while the Government of Pakistan actively endeavours to fulfill its obligations outlined therein, ensuring the integrity of its commitments and upholding the rights of workers in Pakistan.

The sources said, ban on activities of All Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electric Labour Union can create problems for GSP plus facilitation in the member countries of European Union (EU).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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NasirGulzar Mar 26, 2024 04:09pm
These unions are the main reason of huge circular debt and inefficiencies in the power sector
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