Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 00:21:42 -0600 (CST)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winkel)
Subject: The Plight Of Labor In Pakistan
/** labr.global: 218.0 **/
** Topic: The Plight Of Labor In Pakistan **
** Written 12:02 AM Jan 29, 1999 by email@example.com in cdp:labr.global **
Date: 01/29 12:22 AM
P.O. Box 4233
Berkeley, California 94704
The Plight of Labor in Pakistan
By Karamat Ali, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education
29 June 1999
The trade union activist Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of
Labour Education in Karachi spent a short residence at the University
of California under the sponsorship of the Center for South Asia
Conversing on Pakistani trade unions responses to multinational
capitals modern reentrance into South Asia, he asserted that in the
perspective of the last fifty years more hurdles than opportunities
have been created for labor. Partition proved to be a disjunction for
labor on the subcontinent, for Pakistani labor had no contacts with
their Indian counterparts till 1990 and vice versa. With the Bangladesh
schism, the possibility of South Asian labor solidarity was made even
worse. Bitter national rivalries overrode proletarian commonalties.
The national states in the region have used their militaries to control
labor. The Pakistani and Indian states have prevented easy contact
between the common people which particularly effected labor -- with
the result that there is a lack of horizontal linkages in the rupee
Discussion between elements of the South Asian states began in the
1980s with the organization of SAARC, and a recognition of the linkages
between the region. The highest paid 10% of the work force are
concentrated in the permanent public sector in Pakistan. Further, all
the SAARC nations have a hierarchical top/down; male dominated
structure where women could rarely even join a trade union. Since
women dominated only the "lesser" occupations the major trade unions
were not interested in organizing them.
Before the Partition the British had already granted the right to
organize although it was enterprise based; therefore, unionization in
the late Raj was inwardly directed towards a specific industry. And,
subsequently, during the modern Pakistani regime manufacturing unions
have been hindered even further in their efforts of organizing.
At the onset of economic liberalization in the 1980s, SAARC as an
economic block had not become functional as yet. There were plethora
of unions in each country. In Pakistan during 1992 all manufacturing
units became privatized which affected the working class negatively.
The recent Indo-Pakistani Forum along with the South Asian Convention
of 1992 created a linkage between environmental issues and labor
rights. In effect this confronted transnational capital moving South
Asian labor into a position of solidarity. The proletariat of both
India and Pakistan felt that there was no sense in demonization of
their fellow workers across the old line of partition in the light of
their struggle against the "enemy" of multinational capital.
Democratic trade unions have a need for South Asian solidarity.
Regarding the nuclear issue Ali stated that "Nuclearization is a big
set back - two beggars act nuclear at the cost of the people. At
least a peace movement is beginning" It is a ploy by the two nuclear
Southern Asian states to divert the populace from issues of justice and
Finally Karamat Ali averred that "Labor rights should be part of the
United Nations principles." He suggested that a commissioner of labor
would strengthen the structure of U.N. itself. But if it this is ever
instituted, it should be under the more democratic General Assembly and
not the authoritarian Security Council.
This material came from the Institute for Global Communications (IGC), a
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