PWF, ILO impart paralegal training to trade unionists

 KARACHI: 28 members from different trade unions of Pakistan completed a 14-day paralegal training course jointly organized by the Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Different sessions of the training were conducted by Dr Muhammad Ishaq, Zulfiqar Ahmed and Shehr Bano from the Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF). The regional leadership of PWF Karachi and Baluchistan monitored the training and gave its feedback. Those present on the occasion included PWF President Ajab Khan, Karachi Region General Secretary Qazi Tanveer Ahmed and Central Finance Secretary Ejaz ul Haq Siddiqui.

The audience was informed that the variety and complexity of labour laws in Pakistan have contributed adversely to the industrial relations system in the country. Besides, the structural and legislative changes and simplification and minimization of labour judicial system to provide speedy justice to the labour sector have been recurring issues in Pakistan.

It was also shared that the trade unions in Pakistan and the workers at the plant level face a lot of litigations and have to take recourse to immediate judicial relief which is not forthcoming. The reason for this delay in getting justice is also for the reason that the trade unions do not have the financial strength to hire lawyers who can represent them in courts.

“Workshop aimed at developing the capacity of the second line emerging leadership of trade unions. This will help them contest their cases themselves without hiring expensive legal services” said Mr Razi Mujtaba Haider from ‘Gender Equality for Decent Employment (GE4DE)’ Project of ILO.

 The workers (both women and men) usually face cases like those involving charge sheet, termination from service, discriminatory wages, lack of contracts and formal Terms of Reference (ToRs) and so on. Women workers additionally face the cases of sexual harassment at workplace.

The PWF realizes that there must be an alternative cost effective mechanism at the disposal of the workers to provide them with legal relief and to represent them in courts. The federation ultimately reached a conclusion that the trade union members should be imparted training and basic education to enable them to represent their fellow workers in the courts and thus enable them to have access to justice.

There were equal number of women and men from various affiliated unions of the PWF. The participants already had basic education and experience within the trade unions and were quite familiar with the issues faced by workers at their workplaces.

The best part was that instead of hiring trainers from the market, the PWF utilized the newly trained young trainers who had been trained through the educational activities of the PWF supported by the GE4DE Project. One new emerging male trainer and one new emerging female trainer conducted each of these four trainings. A senior trainer would also be present at the venue to provide pre and post session feedback and guidelines to these trainers.

Special Correspondent