Occupational safety and health

Pakistan considers ratifying ILO Convention on safety and health in mines

Pakistan priorities to ratify the ILO Convention on Safety and Health in Mines during the discussion in provincial validation workshop held in Karachi.

Press release | Karachi, Pakistan | 02 January 2023
KARACHI (ILO News) - Representatives from the government, employers’ organizations, workers’ organisations and civil society organizations unanimously agreed for the need to prioritise ratification of the ILO Convention No.176 on Safety and Health in Mines.

Mines in Pakistan employ around 300,000 workers and contribute to around 2.38% to the GDP of the country. Annually, upto 300 deaths are reported and many more accidents and injuries that workers in the sector face.

Ensuring safety and health for workers in mines is not only a human right but also a business imperative, improving working conditions result into better productivity and growth of the sector, said Mr Muhammad Wishaq, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development at the provincial validation workshop on gap assessment of the ILO Convention No. 176, held in Karachi on 28 December 2022. The initiative was supported by the ILO Country Office for Pakistan.

The participants of the workshop stressed that in order to prevent the loss of lives, a genuine tripartite initiative should be taken with the participation of government, employers and mine workers, in a process that would include training, consultations and involve workers to deal with mining hazards and employers to put in place mitigating measures.

Representatives of workers pointed out that institutional apathy and the contract system is the reason why the mining industry remains risk prone. Hundreds of coal mines operate in an unregulated manner. Fragmented ownership structure, illegal ownership, and failure to implement rules and regulations contribute to the deteriorating health and safety situation in Pakistani mines.

Representatives of employers mentioned challenges small business owners face operating in the sector and suggested incentives such as relaxation in taxes, ease of doing business and simplification of process when they register complaints or seek legal recourse.

The workshop featured a detailed presentation on Convention No. 176 gap assessment report including article by article analysis of alignment of Pakistani laws with the Convention.

Participants of the workshop deliberated on four areas of concern including strengthening governance and institutional performance of mines inspectorates; better cooperation among workers and employers; better coverage of social protection of workers and compliance with labour standards especially with regards to OSH in mines.

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) has been elevated to the status of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work at International Labour Conference in June 2022. This is an opportunity for Pakistan to consider ratifying the two up to date OSH Conventions and to strengthen sector specific response in mines that face a peculiar challenge in Pakistan, said Ms Rabia Razzaque, Senior Programme Officer ILO CO Islamabad.

This was second in the series of workshops. Following the provincial workshops, a national workshop will culminate the consultation process and a road map developed by the Ministry of OPHRD will be shared to advance the process of ratification of convention No.176.