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|Updated: 18.12.2012 15:51|
Mit einem (illegalen) Federstrich...
...versucht die pakistanische Regierung eine ganze Reihe von Arbeitsgesetzen abzuschaffen - und dies versteckt im Haushaltsgesetz, das ab 1. Juli 2006 in Kraft tritt. Zu den zentralen marktwirtschaftlichen Reformen gehören unter anderem die (heimliche) Beendigung des 8 Stundentags (jetzt sollen 12 Arbeitsstunden normal werden), die Beseitigung des Nachtarbeitsverbots für Arbeiterinnen, die Einführung einer neuen Beschäftigtenkategorie, denen keine Überstundenzulagen bezahlt werden müssen, sowie der Ausschluss von Beschäftigten in Betrieben unter 20 Angestellten von der Sozialversicherung. Die Brutalität dieser Maßnahmen sowie ihr eindeutig illegaler Charakter haben selbst die - Fragen der Arbeitswelt eher nicht so zugeneigte - Asiatische Menschenrechtskomission auf den Plan gerufen. Die ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION hat deswegen einen ihren "Urgent Appeals" publiziert, mit dem Aufruf, eine Kampagne zu organisieren, um die ILO dazu zu bewegen, diese neuen "Gesetze", bzw das Haushaltsgesetz 2006/7 als gegen ihre Normen verstossend zu verurteilen - ein Musterprotestbrief sowie ein Link zur Unterzeichnung des Protests in der (englischen, hiermit kurz zusammengefassten) Pressemitteilung "PAKISTAN: Denial of workers' rights; unconstitutional government - collapsed rule of law" vom 7. Juli 2006.
UG-011-2006: PAKISTAN: Urge ILO action on anti-worker & unconstitutional law
PAKISTAN: Denial of workers' rights; unconstitutional government - collapsed rule of law
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned by a new bill that was illegally passed by the government in Pakistan in order to drag the country's workers into conditions of slavery. The so-called Finance Bill is an unconstitutional law that severely undermines basic labour rights and flies against the basic principles for protection of workers that have been established by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over nearly a century. The ILO and international community should strongly condemn and oppose this bill and call for its immediate withdrawal.
On June 21 the National Assembly of Pakistan illegally removed a swathe of basic workers' rights under the cover of the annual Finance Bill, with effect from July 1. The Finance Bill is supposed to establish the annual budget, with approval from both houses of parliament, in accordance with article 70 of the constitution. It is not intended to change or amend any other laws.
But the 2006 Finance Bill was used to illegally introduce amendments to five key laws that were passed over the years to protect workers from exploitation:
1. Factories Act 1934: Provisions to bar females from working in factories before sunrise and after sunset under sections 38 and 45 have been amended; employers may now force them to work two shifts at a time, up to 10pm.
2. Shops & Establishment Ordinance 1969: Daily working hours have been increased from eight to 12 hours. The compulsory weekly holiday has been abolished.
3. West Pakistan Industrial & Commercial Employment (Standing Orders) Ordinance 1968: A new category of "contract worker" has been added to the ordinance. These workers will not be entitled to compensation for overtime. In addition, the ceiling on overtime has been raised from 150 hours to 624 hours a year for adults and from 100 hours to 468 hours for juveniles.
4 & 5. Workers Welfare Fund Ordinance 1971 & Employees' Old-age Benefits (EOBI) Act 1976: The scope of both the Workers Welfare Fund and EOBI has also been restricted. Registration with the EOBI will from now on be compulsory only for establishments employing 20 or more workers, a hugely regressive step that will drastically curtail its applicability and deprive millions of workers of their fundamental rights.
Incredibly, this bill was passed by the National Assembly without even a debate. Then, in a blatantly illegal action it was adopted without being submitted to the Senate.
In a functioning system of justice and democracy it would be possible for this patently illegal law to be challenged in the courts. However, the military rulers of Pakistan have never shown any regard to legality or constitutionalism, and nor have the country's judges and politicians ever shown the capacity to stand up to them. Therefore it is unlikely that there is any possibility that purely domestic protest will overcome this odious new law. For that reason, strong action from the ILO, international trade unions and other concerned agencies and persons is essential.
For a recent article on the compliance of Pakistan's judiciary with the orders of the military see: "The doctrine of necessity and Pakistan's poodle judiciary" by Baseer Naveed.
Please write to the ILO representative in Pakistan and other relevant persons to express your concern at the illegality and indecency of this bill, and the consequences for millions of already poorly-paid, overworked and badly-protected workers in Pakistan. Please urge the ILO to work for the withdrawal of this bill and the improvement of working conditions and wages in the country.
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As far as I am aware, both the procedure and substance of this bill are unconstitutional and illegal. To begin with, article 70 of the Constitution of Pakistan requires law to be approved by both houses of parliament. However, in this case the bill was passed by the National Assembly and never forwarded to the Senate.
Furthermore, the Finance Bill is not for the purpose of amending other laws; it is simply to set the national budget. However, under this guise the bill was used to remove workers' rights contained in a raft of laws, including the Factories Act 1934; Shops & Establishment Ordinance 1969; West Pakistan Industrial & Commercial Employment (Standing Orders) Ordinance 1968; Workers Welfare Fund Ordinance 1971; and the Employees' Old-age Benefits (EOBI) Act 1976. As a consequence, working hours and overtime can be increased; compulsory holidays abolished; women and children overworked; compensation for overtime removed; and the number of companies obliged to give welfare and old-age benefits drastically reduced.
In short, the law removes legal defences, increases working time, reduces earnings and exposes women and children to greater exploitation. It will spread poverty, worsen health and intensify mental and social disorder in a society that is already suffering intensely from a multitude of pressures and conflicts. I believe that apart from being patently illegal under domestic law, the bill flies in the face of international law, in particular, the charter of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), for instance, the eight-hour-day and 48-hour-week established under ILO Convention No. 1 in 1911.
With this bill, the government of Pakistan is clearly intent upon taking its citizens back to a time long before 1911. It is apparently hoping to take them back centuries, to a time when there was no notion of workers' rights or laws to protect them.
I therefore request your urgent intervention to see that this odious law is repealed and a new Finance Bill introduced, debated and passed through both houses of parliament in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan. I expect that the ILO and international trade unions will be taking up these issues with the government of Pakistan and working towards the improvement, rather than deterioration, of the rights and welfare of workers there, in accordance with the ILO Charter and international law.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:
Mr. Donglin Li
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