ILO appreciates Pakistan efforts for eliminating, forced, child and bonded labor

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ILO appreciates Pakistan's efforts for eliminating

ISLAMABAD, JUN 4 /DNA/ – The Government of Pakistan is very welcoming and always open to discussions with the International Labour Organization. The country relies heavily export of textiles and no country would buy from Pakistan if there is forced labor, child labor, bonded labor, etc. in the supply chain, said Geir T. Tonstol, Country Director of ILO while having a formal interaction with the journalists here in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Pakistan is one of the very few countries that benefits from the GSP+ preferential trade agreement with the EU. There are 27 labor, human rights, and environmental standards that need to be followed to maintain that status, Mr. Tonstol further added.

Geir T. Tonstol had an interactive session with the journalists on the first day of the 2-day workshop held at the ILO office under USDOL funded BRIDGE project in Islamabad on Tuesday for effective Reporting on Forced Labour and Fair Recruitment in Pakistan. He said Pakistan has been a member of the ILO since the country gained independence in 1947 and the ILO opened an office in Pakistan in 1970.

Mr. Tonstol said that as a country head of ILO there’s always interaction with the world of work and I’ve been traveling a lot, including interacting with railway unionists while traveling from Lahore to Islamabad by train and to visit mines in Balochistan and factories in Sialkot.

He said ILO plays a supportive role in fostering dialogue between employers, government, and workers unions to promote decent working conditions, social justice, and fair recruitment. “It has been reported that there may be as many as 3.4 million individuals in conditions of bonded labour,” he further said, most of the stories go unnoticed in mainstream media, and the purpose of the workshop is to help develop journalists techniques to address labour issues and hope the outcome will be improved reporting which could be a catalyst for positive change in workers’ rights to contribute in the formation of better policies.

Mr. Tonstol also briefed the journalists regarding the four goals of ILO in Pakistan which are employment for youth since 20 million youth are unemployed in Pakistan with limited access to training and education, social protection which includes social security benefits, international labour standards since Pakistan has only ratified in 36 out of 190 ILO labor standards and occupational safety and health, he said.

Mr. Tonstol emphasized on encouragement of trade unions in Pakistan and said we welcome the trade unions which represent workers. He said that Pakistan Workers’ Federation is one of our partners in Pakistan, meanwhile the Employers Federation of Pakistan, based in Karachi is also our biggest member representing the employers. He said we’re working with the governments of Sindh and Punjab to consolidate labor laws.

When asked by if it’s challenging to deal with provinces regarding labour laws post-18th Amendment, Mr. Tonstol said, I admit it’s challenging since there’s no specific Ministry of Labour at Federal level but it’s also good that responsibility is divided to the provinces so they can make better laws for the province.