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Centre should have a say in labour issues 

23 April 2011 01:24:04

Centre should have a say in labour issues

Federal govt needs to manage Workers Welfare Fund earning Rs 6.5b

The principle of provincial autonomy under the 18th Amendment is fine but the federal government needs to have an oversight in labour affairs, especially international treaties, trade unions, protections and benefits of employees and uniformity of wages in all provinces, suggested labour experts on Friday.

They were speaking at a PILDAT Consultative Session on Devolution of Labour Ministry post 18th Constitutional Amendment: Impact and Challenges at a local hotel.

Central Labour Advisor, Federal Ministry of Labour and Manpower, Javed Gill, said the Industrial Relation Authority (IRA) bill is finalized which would be presented in the Parliament.

He said it needed support of parliamentarians. The representatives of the provincial governments were of the opinion that they could handle the issues arising out of labour after devolution but would be in a position to do so after devolution process is completed.

Chairman, Employees Old Age Benefits Institutie (EOBI), Zafar Iqbal Gondal was of the opinion that EOBI and Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) should be merged whether it remains in federal level or devolved to the provinces. He believed that no province at the moment was capable of handling the EOBI or WWF.

In Worker Welfare Fund the federal income is almost Rs 7 billion and their expenditure is just over Rs500 million. It saves Rs6.5 million. After devolution KPK and Balochistan would not even be able to meet salaries of their employees in Worker Welfare Funds.

The EOBI funds will meet the same fate as KPK and Balochistan have less income and more liabilities.

Executive Director, PILDAT, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, was of the view that the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms in its 9-month long deliberation did not consult with experts of different fields, although they sought and received recommendations before their deliberations.

The participants stressed on uniformity of laws among provinces. They believed that it is a window of opportunity for provinces as well to cut their administrative cost. Federal oversight is necessary in labour affairs.

Social security organizations should be merged and there should be one universal card which should be applicable all over the country.