Deploring the Punjab government’s ban on labour inspections in factories, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has termed the move ‘callous’ and ‘ill-thought-out
Lahore (Pakistan Point News - 13th September, 2019) Deploring the Punjab government’s ban on labour inspections in factories, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has termed the move ‘callous’ and ‘ill-thought-out’.
Where it should be strengthening labour inspection mechanisms and extending these to all sectors of the economy, the government has effectively dismissed labour welfare. Where Article 37(e) of the Constitution emphasises that the state ‘shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work’, the government has created conditions in which employers are no longer obligated to ensure occupational health and safety. There are hard lessons that should have been learnt from tragedies such as the Baldia factory fire. Clearly, they have not.
The ‘health’ of the economy is only as good as the health and safety of its workers and the extent to which the state is prepared to respect and fulfil its constitutional and international obligations in this respect. The government must ask itself whether it is prepared to risk the likelihood of safety-related incidents in the absence of labour inspections – not because such incidents would reflect badly on Pakistan’s reputation as a trading partner and affect business interests, but because workers’ lives matter intrinsically and must not keep being considered a dispensable ‘commodity’.