Printer Friendly

Bureaucracy is the hurdle in cordial relations.

Economic Review: What are the problems of the workers and what are the remedies ?

Shahid Ali Khan: The situation is quite depressing for the working class. And the tragedy is that it is continuously deteriorating. There is economic exploitation compounded by the cold attitude of the government towards workers. Inflation coupled with price-hike has broken the backbone of the working community. Government pays no heed to the workers' problem because of its feudal origin. Workers have no voice in the assemblies. The only way out is to correlate the wages of the workers with the actual inflation.

ER: How will you comment on Labour-Management relations in Pakistan with special reference to PSO ?

SAK: State influence and unnecessary bureaucratic control are the main hurdles in maintaining cordial Labour-Management relations in the public sector units. Bureaucrats have no knowledge of workers problems. Even the management is not trusted upon. The agreements arrived at between the managements and the workers are not implemented due to government influence. Even in the profitable units despite mutual agreements recruitment are banned because of state interference. There should be a check on it to avoid any untoward incident. Moreover, both management and workers lack education which is the reason of mistrust between the two.

So far the Labour-Management relations in PSO are concerned it is unfortunate that management is more irresponsible at present as compared to workers. The submissive attitude of the union is being considered as weakness by the management and as an underhand deal by our opponents. The fact is that we do not want to confront with management in the larger interest of the organisation. As a result petty issues are being kept in doldrums. Our past is a testimony that we are well aware of the methods of handling issues by applying pressures. But we do not want to spoil industrial peace. The situation is disappointing and this is not a good sign.

ER: Are you satisfied with the wage structure in PSO?

SAK: Wage structure is not that much satisfactory as it should be. Our approach is quite different on this point as compared to traditional trade unionists. PSO occupies top priority in our listing because of its national importance. We never confronted even on the issues which were legal and genuine in essence. Even less wages were accepted without interlinking conditions. At time our demands were rejected on the plea of budget deficit.

Now it has become the regular feature of management to keep pending the agreed demands. The glaring example is the Pension Scheme. In the Charter of Demand of 1986 pension was demanded. In 1987's charter, it was again pursued and management assured to dig out possibilities. After a marathon exercise it was agreed by the management to introduce pension scheme on adjustable basis from January 1, 1990. The management sent the case to the Ministry of Petroleum for final approval. Since then the case is in doldrums for reasons beyond our understanding. Although it was our legal right to serve a strike notice to the management for not fulfilling its agreed commitment, but we avoided the path of confrontation in PSO because of its national importance. Instead we served one month's notice asking management to implement pension scheme. In case, otherwise the union will proceed to Sindh High Court for seeking justice.

ER: Do you hope new Labour Policy?

SAK: The government at present is experiencing muti-dimensional problems. The announcement of new labour policy will further aggravate its problems. However it is sure that the announcement of a Labour Policy containing the aspirations of the working community appears beyond the scopes of present government. But it is quite imperative for industrial peace and productivity that the labuor policy should be a balance one. A monotoring body compricing of employees and employers should be appointing to keeps checks on implementation of the policy.

ER : How will you comment on Contract Labour System ?

SAK: There is no Contract Labour in PSO.

In the particular context of Pakistan sudden elimination of contract system will increase unemployment. It should gradually be reduced with the strengthening of economic base of an industry.

ER: Is there any news on privatisation of PSO. If so what would be its impact ?

SAk: If the PSO is handed-over the persons who have knowledge in oil business, we will have no objection and there appears no loss to the workers. Because the total work strength of PSO is 1500, whereas the capital base of the organisation is Rs. 29 billion. So the workers would not be a liability to the new management. The workers because on their vast experience in oil business are not likely to face retrenchment. The new management would be forced to keep the experience workforce to run the affairs efficiently. Moreover privatisation will not be a new experiment for us. In 1947 we had been in Pakistan National Oil which was under private sector. The Saith (owner) at that time had given more powers to the Managing Director. In some cases the Managing Director was more indefendent in taking initiatives and decisions as compared to the present management who is under the yoke of bureaucratic controls of Islamabad. This is a dilemma of taken-over industries that the professional managements have been crippled by the non-professional high-ups sitting right in the ministries. Under the circumstances the privatisation process will not only eliminate red-tapism but will also boost-up industrial growth in the country. At present more than 70 per cent shares of the PSO are with banks or financial institutions. After privatisation of financial institutions PSO will automatically go into private hands.

ER: How will you comment on the behaviour of the present government towards workers ?

SAK: The behaviour of the government is quite contradictory. Whatever is said is not being practiced. The assemblies because of industrial and feudal origin have little sympathies for the workers. The government claimed to have brought about revolution for workers but there is no sign of it. In the present system it is beyond the scope of workers to contest elections or to frame laws of their choice. The solution is to declare province-wise quota for the workers in the National Assembly and Senate according to its strength so that the grievances of the workers could reach the highest forum.

ER: Do you foresee any betterment for workers in the present democratic era ?

SAK: In the first instance it is not a democratic era because the approach of the government is not democratic although it has the mandate of the people. Moreover, any government that works under the dictatesofgeneralscannotbeademocratic one. The present government is more inclined to please the elected representatives rather than the masses who have elected them. For an eye wash a labour ministry has been constituted but it has nothing to do with workers. The ministry is more interested in home remittances of overseas workers rather than the downtrodden working community.

Shahid Ali Khan, President, is a vocal trade-unionist. He has no political affiliation whatsoever. He joined PIA in 1960 and was sacked in 1965 because of trade union activities. Shanid Ali Khan joined PSO in 1966 and was elected as President, PSO Workmen Union in 1974. Since then he is holding the portfolio and won four referendums out of five. There are about 2300 employees out of which 1,500 are unionised workers.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Economic and Industrial Publications
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Industrial Relations in Pakistan '92; interview with Shahid Ali Khan
Author:Haque, Ansarul
Publication:Economic Review
Article Type:Interview
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Review of safety standards can improve productivity.
Next Article:Pragmatic approach needed for betterment.

Related Articles
Privatisation of profitable units will be counter-productive.
Marriages beyond borders.
President announces Military awards to officers and men of Pakistan Armed Forces.
Pakistan views China as great help, friend: President.
Swat peace deal needs to be placed in correct perspective before the international community: Zardari.
Presidents visit to US, Libya to open new vitas : Shamshad.
Resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue also in Indias favour, says Nisar.
Resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue also in India favour, says Nisar.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters