ILO & UNHCR plan to address Decent Work Deficits of Afghan Refugee/Migrant Workers in Pakistan: Government considering to Ratify ILO Convention 143 on Migrant Workers
26 April 2012
Islamabad: The tri-partite stake holders endorsed the broad joint strategy of ILO- UNHCR to provide support to Afghan Migrant Workers under the Afghan Management and Repatriation Strategy. The participants also suggested that ILO and UNHCR in their future joint programme to help address the decent work deficits of workers from both Afghan refugees and Pakistani host communities. This national level technical consultation focused on “Decent Work Deficits of Workers from Afghan Refugees and Pakistani host communities and strategies to support Government of Pakistan’s Afghan Management and Repatriation Strategy” at the ILO Office in Islamabad.
Mr. Francesco d’Ovidio said, “the Government of Pakistan is considering to give work permits to 150,000 workers for legal work in Pakistan and this makes these workers as migrant workers. Therefore, ILO Convention 143 on migrant workers becomes useful to help better manage the Afghan migrant workers.” Mr. Haji Javed, President Employers Federation of Pakistan and Mr. Zahoor Awan from Pakistan Workers Federation highlighted the need for Pakistan to ratify ILO convention 143 on migrant workers.
Mr. Javed Gill, Central Labour Advisor, Ministry of Human Resource Development shared that the Government of Pakistan is considering ratifying ILO Convention 143 on Migrant Workers. He also extended full support to ILO-UNHCR joint initiative. Mr. Habibullah Khan, Secretary, Ministry of States and Frontier Regions highlighted the role of the Ministry in this joint venture and the need to support the strategies for the Government’s Afghan Management and Repatriation Strategy that focus on the ultimate goal of voluntary repatriation of Afghan Refugees.
Earlier, Dr. M. Saifullah Chaudhry, Senior Programme Officer ILO, highlighted ILO-UNHCR ongoing preparatory initiative on decent work deficits of Afghan Refugees Workers and presented the key features of the ILO Convention 143 on migrant Workers. This was followed by the key findings of two research studies carried out in Quetta and Peshawar that confirm workers from both Afghan refugees and Pakistani host communities experience decent work deficits. The Peshawar study indicated illiteracy was high among Afghan refugees (65.5%) and significant among host communities (39%). Host males and Afghan Refugees females were earning less than the minimum wage. There is almost global trend of verbal contract with workers from the Afghan refugees male, females and host males (more than 90%). Both host community and Afghan refugees both were almost globally (more than 90%) unaware of minimum wages. Incidents of Child labour reported in both the communities. Majority (60%) Afghan refugee males, and male child labour from both communities were working 9 to 12 hours a day. Negligible incidents of forced/bonded labour were reported. The incidence of discrimination at work places was reported by less than 5% of respondents. Negligible number of Afghans (1%) and Host (3%) respondents had membership of any trade union. The Quetta study indicated similar trends. Afghans refugees had low literacy (around 22%). Large majority of Afghan (90%) and Hosts (70%) were working in informal sector and on verbal contracts (78% Afghans, and 55% hosts). Afghan males (65%) and afghan females (50%) reported discrimination at workplace. Very few (less than 4%) Afghan refugees and host communities were members of any trade union. There was incidence of child labour in both the afghan refugees and the host communities.
Earlier to identify priorities of stakeholders at the provincial level, consultations were organized in Quetta and Peshawar (April 2012) with the parliamentarians, representatives of employers and workers, and media representatives. These consultations are organized by our implementing partners including Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP), Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF), Media Mark, and Parliamentarians Commission of Human Rights (PCHR). In these consultations the representatives of Commisionarate of Afghan Refugees, and provincial Labour Departments also took part. In addition to findings of the studies, key features of the ILO Convention 143 on Migrant Workers were also shared. The parliamentarians, employers and workers in Baluchistan and KPK provinces have unanimously agreed on the need to ratify ILO Convention 143. They have also supported future ILO-UNHCR joint program to address the decent work deficits of workers from the Afghan Refugees and Host Communities, and eventual voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees.
For further information please contact
Dr Muhammad Saifullah Chaudhry, Senior Programme Officer, ILO Office for Pakistan
Tel.: +92 51 2276456-8, Ext 235