Message from Ms Ingrid Christensen, Country Director of the ILO on occasion of 2016 Labour Day

Labour Day on 1st May is celebrated to galvanize global commitment to support the rights of workers. The ILO Islamabad supported the Department of Labour Sindh in organizing a unique tripartite event where the senior political leadership of the Province expressed a commitment to enhance efforts for providing better working conditions through improved labour legislation.

News | 03 May 2016
As we know, the International Labour Organization (ILO), was created in 1919 on the principle that universal and lasting peace can be achieved only if it is based on social justice. The mandate of ILO is closely linked to the spirit of May Day as ILO’s first Convention “Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 (No. 1)” concerning the eight hour day provided the foundation for the rallying call of the first May Day congregations more than 100 years ago. The ILO, in its endeavours has always advocated social dialogue among the tripartite constituents i.e the government, Workers’ and Employers’ organizations that has demonstrated great achievements in promotion of decent work environment for workers, shaping peaceful communities and creating resilient economies across the globe. ILO therefore firmly believes that advocating social dialogue among its tripartite constituents is tremendously relevant to Pakistan’s industrial relations context too.

The ILO’s conventions oblige the signatory states to uphold four fundamental principles and rights at work that include the following freedoms:
  1. Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining
  2. Freedom from discrimination in employment and occupation
  3. Freedom from forced labour; and
  4. Freedom from child labour
These are enabling rights which provides the foundation for social progress and the realization of social justice. These principles are also embodied in eight core ILO conventions Pakistan has already ratified.

These rights at work enable working women and men to freely claim their fair share of the wealth they produce. They should hence be kept at the centre of employment policies, social protection schemes and the development of safety nets as building blocks of creating resilient economies.

Today I acknowledge the marathon efforts made by workers alongside ILO to protect their rights and encourage each of us to reach out to those who lack much needed representation for breaking the intricately fabricated nexus of poverty. The Decent Work Country Program for Pakistan provides one avenue for the protection of workers’ rights. The enforcement of labour rights based on shared awareness between workers and employers is also a necessary precondition for the realisation of “decent work” within and among the formal and informal economy.

This is the first commemoration of Labor Day in Pakistan since I assumed the responsibilities as Director in April, 2016. I wish to commend all those involved for their commitment I have seen in the short period towards achieving the goal of decent and productive work throughout the country.

Also, on this dedicated May Day, the ILO affirms its strong commitment to continue supporting all its constituents in strengthening the legislative framework, institutional capacities and labour practices that the people of Pakistan need to realize the goal of decent work for all.