Pakistan reaffirms commitment to decent work for next 5 years

During a signing ceremony at the International Labour Organization’s Country Office in Islamabad, the Government of Pakistan and representatives from employers’ and workers’ organizations launched the latest iteration of the Decent Work Country Programme for Pakistan.

The Programme, covering the period of 2023-2027, reflects the shared priorities of the ILO’s tripartite constituents in Pakistan – the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, employers’ and workers’ organizations.

The programme aims to promote employment, social protection, respect for international labour standards, and occupational safety and health to make workplaces safe and inclusive. Pakistan was one of the first countries globally to develop a tripartite Decent Work Country Programme in 2005, demonstrating its commitment to lead by example. The programme is aligned with Pakistan’s national priorities set out in Vision 2025, provincial policies and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for Pakistan, supporting the country’s realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Decent Work Country Programme for Pakistan aims to address critical areas of concern in Pakistan’s workforce, including the plight of workers in the informal economy, limited social protection benefits, and the rising number of NEETS – youth who are not in employment, education, or training highlighted the Director of ILO’s Country Office for Pakistan, Geir T. Tonstol. Zahoor Awan, the member of the Governing Body of the ILO, representing the workers of Pakistan, congratulated the ILO for providing support and guidance for finalizing the Decent Work Country Programme.

He reiterated that Decent Work is the tool that can address the increasing disparities in the world of work. He noted that the new programme draws lessons from the previous programmes and focuses on upholding and advocating for the effective application of International Labour Standards through social dialogue which gives workers an equal voice and agency to represent those who are most vulnerable to shocks. Representing the employers of Pakistan, Fasihul Karim Siddiqui, Vice-President of the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan, called the signing of the Decent Work Country Programme a momentous occasion. He said that the programme considers the challenges faced by the economy and the impacts of recent economic turmoil caused by various unfortunate events on businesses and proposes pragmatic solutions to address business sustainability and competitiveness while making them more compliant.

During the ceremony, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, Mr Julien Harneis, expressed that the Decent Work Country Programme for Pakistan would create a more prosperous, fair, inclusive and equitable society as it is premised on the principle of reaching the furthest behind including women, youth, persons with disabilities, migrant workers among others and ensuring equal access to opportunities and decent work.

Finally, the chief guest of the occasion, the Secretary, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Zulfiqar Haider, stated that the Programme aligns with the Government of Pakistan’s vision of creating an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth and job creation. He assured that in the next five years, his Ministry will take concrete and affirmative measures to ensure that decent employment, skills and social protection are mainstreamed to enable Just Transitions for all.

During the event, informative presentations were given on important aspects of the newly launched Decent Work Country Programme IV for Pakistan. Dr Aliya Khan, an eminent scholar and Decent Work expert emphasized the critical role of Occupational Safety and Health and the significance of creating safe workplaces in Pakistan to guarantee a favourable working environment and promote decent working conditions.