Labour Rights in the Constitution
The Constitution of Pakistan contains a range of provisions with regards to labour rights found in Part II: Fundamental Rights and Principles of Policy.
- Article 11 of the Constitution prohibits all forms of slavery, forced labour and child labour;
- Article 17 provides for a fundamental right to exercise the freedom of association and the right to form unions;
- Article 18 proscribes the right of its citizens to enter upon any lawful profession or occupation and to conduct any lawful trade or business;
- Article 25 lays down the right to equality before the law and prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex alone;
- Article 37(e) makes provision for securing just and humane conditions of work, ensuring that children and women are not employed in vocations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment.
Pakistan’s labour laws trace their origination to legislation inherited from India at the time of partition of the Indo-Pak subcontinent. The laws have evolved through a continuous process of trial to meet the socio-economic conditions, state of industrial development, population and labour force explosion, growth of trade unions, level of literacy, Government’s commitment to development and social welfare. To meet the above named objectives, the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has introduced a number of labour policies, since its independence to mirror the shifts in governance from martial law to democratic governance.
Under the Constitution labour is regarded as a ‘concurrent subject’, which means that it is the responsibility of both the Federal and Provincial Governments. However, for the sake of uniformity, laws are enacted by the Federal Government, stipulating that Provincial Governments may make rules and regulations of their own according to the conditions prevailing in or for the specific requirements of the Provinces. The total labour force of Pakistan is comprised of approximately 37.15 million people, with 47% within the agriculture sector, 10.50% in the manufacturing & mining sector and remaining 42.50% in various other professions.
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