KARACHI: Shariq Ahmed, Secretary of the Labour and Human Resource Department, Government of Sindh, highlighted the significance of bipartite and tripartite social dialogue in promoting the principles outlined in the MNE Declaration and implementing best business practices in the workplace. He emphasized the importance of such dialogue for ensuring the social protection of workers and fostering enterprise sustainability. These remarks were made during the Tripartite Meeting on Promoting the MNE Declaration, organized by the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Majyd Aziz, the Former President of EFP, along with Qamar ul Hassan, Secretary General of IUF Pakistan Coordinating Council, Karamat Ali, Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Habib Uddin Junaidi, Central Chairman of All Pakistan Trade Union Organization, Aqib Salam, Head of Employee Relations at K-Electric, Humayun Nazir, Board Director, and Syed Nazar Ali, Secretary General at EFP, also addressed the occasion.

Shariq Ahmed appreciated the efforts of EFP in creating awareness among stakeholders about the Principles of the MNE Declaration and the role local and multinational enterprises can play in the socio-economic development and realization of decent work. In the internationally connected business environment, compliance with international standards and local legislation is becoming compulsory for business and there is no other way.

He informed the meeting that the Government is fully conscious of its responsibilities and taking measures to promote the culture of compliance and encourage businesses to comply with international standards and local legislations to ensure the protection of workers. The global business demands the demonstration of best business practices and making businesses more responsible. The inspection system will be improved with a focus on prevention and improvement rather than punishment.

Majyd Aziz, Former President of EFP highlighted the importance and significance of the Declaration in promoting inclusive, sustainable, and responsible business practices at the workplace. He added that with the formation of the Special Industrial Facilitation Council, there is optimism that huge foreign direct investment would be possible and this would also encourage the already existing MNCs in Pakistan to enhance their investment and scope of activities. Hence, the platform of the MNE Declaration must become the guideline to ensure that ILO International Labor Standards as well as the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact are fully complied with by all enterprises. He added that EFP, as the Focal Point of MNED in Pakistan, has endeavoured to promote and project MNED in various cities of Pakistan.

Qamar ul Hassan, Secretary General IUF Pakistan Coordinating Council said that the MNE Declaration, OECD guidelines for a better job, and the United Nations Human Rights all tell us about responsible business and how the stakeholders can play their due role in making businesses more and more responsible and protecting the rights of workers and the development of the communities. He emphasized that when businesses engage in CSR, their foremost priority should be their workers, followed by the community.

He also emphasized the need to focus on improving the traditional perception of trade unions and vice versa, minimizing the trust deficit, communication gap, and skills and competence of workers and employers to better understand each other’s viewpoints and manage those issues. He advised the trade unions not to engage with employers only for workers’ rights but they should also talk to employers about business and sustainability of businesses.  He also stressed giving workers’ Rights of Association and Collective Bargaining to present and negotiate their issues.

Karamat Ali, Director Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research said that the government institutions are either not ready to understand the workers’ issues or lack the capacity to address them. He stressed the need for strengthening and improving tripartite institutions that provide forums to discuss and deliberate on issues related to labour administration and industrial development.

He highlighted the importance of bilateral dialogue and urged the workers and employers to work together to identify issues and develop consensus to resolve issues through mutual cooperation. He also suggested developing a new social contract to ensure the safety and protection of workers and the sustainability of the enterprises.

Habib Uddin Junaidi, Central Chairman, All Pakistan Trade Union Organization talked about the weak social protection system and the vulnerability of workers due to non-compliance with labour laws and weak institutions for inspection. He said the MNE Declaration is an instrument that guides both national and international organizations in promoting responsible business and decent work. Organizations need to follow and implement the principles of the Declaration that ensure safety and decent working conditions for workers. He further added that after the 18th Amendment, the Sindh Government has made maximum legislation for the benefit of workers.

Aqib Salam, Head of Employee Relations at K-Electric, highlighted the best business practices and initiatives undertaken by the organization to safeguard workers and their families. Notably, they’ve placed a significant focus on promoting gender equality and empowering women. He said all proactive organizations are working beyond legislation when it comes to the welfare and protection of workers and consider it as crucial for enterprise sustainability. He added that KE is promoting best practices not only for compliance with the legislation but also to ensure the sustainability of the organization and the community.