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Employment-oriented labour policy is the need of the hour.

Employment-Oriented Labour Policy is the Need of the Hour

FASIHUL KARIM SIDDIQUI (43) who is General Manager, Personnel & Administration in Hinopak Motors Ltd. obtained his MBA degree from Karachi University. Mr. Siddiqui is widely known among professional circles for his expertise in Labour Laws and Industrial Relations. He has effectively represented the employers on national and international forums. Mr. Siddiqui who is an elected member of the Managing Committee of Employers Federation of Pakistan and Chairman of its Labour Advisory Committee, has recently been appointed a member of Minimum Wage Board Sindh and also the Chairman Federal Working Group of Apprenticeship and In-plant Training. Following are the excerpts from an interview of Mr. Siddiqui by Economic Review:

Economic Review: How will you comment on Industrial Relations in Pakistan. Fasihul Karim Siddiqui: The Industrial Relations in Pakistan has been passing through a checkered history and very little efforts have been made to institutionalise the relationship and to inculcate and develop a sound level of confidence among partners in Industrial Relations at the plant level as well as at national level.

ER: Do you think that the forthcoming new Labour Policy will narrow the gap between Employers and Employees. If not then what in your opinion should be the suggestion for a liberal Labour Policy? FKS: It is the need of the hour that the forthcoming Labour Policy meets the demands of massive industrialization and unemployment in the country. For this purpose the country needs a balanced Labour Policy which is employment-oriented, duly protects the rights of employers and the workers, provides a sound base for promotion of healthy and positive trade unionism and strengthen the institutions which promote mutual trust and confidence amongst workers and employers for achieving the goals of productivity and workers welfare.

ER: Professionalism is the requirement nowadays in every field. Why employers complaint about the outsiders holding office in the Trade Union who were known as Professional Trade Unionst? FKS: Employers have no complaint against the professional trade unionists who have made positive contribution towards the growth of healthy trade unionism in the country. It is, however, their contention that a plant level trade union should have their office bearers elected/selected from among the workers working in the same enterprises and should not be outsiders. The outsiders in the executive body of a plant level trade union have no interest, affiliation or loyalty directly with the organisation and in most of the cases, they are known to have pursued selfish interests at the cost of the interest of the organisations and its workers. The outsiders also stand in the way of developing direct contact and confidence among the employers and workers of the enterprise and have therefore, promoted negative rather than positive Industrial Relations at the plant level. It is, therefore, imperative that for promoting healthy Industrial Relations at the plant level, the employers and the workers of the organisation should be left to themselves. The professional trade union leaders can always act as advisors to the workers' organisations.

ER: You are recently appointed as member of Minimum Wage Board Sindh. What steps have you taken so far for the fixation of minimum wage at Rs. 1,000/-. Your comment. FKS: As employers representative on the Minimum Wage Board Sindh, it will be my endeavour to present the employers viewpoint on the subject as and when needed. The subject of minimum wage cannot be seen in isolation and all the factors that contribute in determining minimum wage must be duly deliberated upon before coming to some conclusion. I am however, of the view that it was high time for us to link the concept of minimum wage with a minimum level of productivity in an organisation so that in the long run wage increase get invariably linked with increase in productivity.

ER: How do you view the Contract Labour system in Pakistan? FKS: The Contract Labour system is an effective and efficient method of taking work and generating employment in the country. The utility of the system is universally acknowledged even in countries like Western Europe, Japan and China. The issue of Contract Labour has been misconstrued and wrongly presented in some quarters. Our present Labour Laws already provide reasonable protection to the rights of Contract workers and if they are effectively applied the evils of the system may be checked.

ER: Why do the employers demand the right of hire and fire? FKS: The employers' demand for the right of hire and fire seems to have been misunderstood. What the employers demand is the unhindered right to manage the enterprise and the right to replace unwilling workers by willing workers. It is also an issue of giving same and equal rights to both the workers and employers when it comes to terminating the employment relationship. If a workers has the right to terminate his employment relationship with the employer of his organisation without giving any reason on one month notice, why the same right should not be available to the employer in the organisation? It is a misnomer to suggest that if this right is restored to the employer, they will indiscriminately terminate the workers. Times have changed and no employer can afford to lose their workers since huge investments are made for training and skill development of each worker. Most of the workers in every enterprises are willing workers and the percentage of unwilling workers is always too small. But if that small percentage of unwilling workers have a feeling that they are over-protected and over-secured in their jobs irrespective of whatever they do under protection of the loose holes in the laws of discipline. This spoils the working environment and the majority of willing workers and employers find themselves helpless but to become the victims of their designs. The employers, therefore, demand that they should have the right to get rid of this small percentage of unwilling workers, so that the working atmosphere and discipline of the organisation is not impaired, they are able to manage the enterprise effectively and the confidence of the majority of willing workers in the ability of managers to enforce discipline is not shattered. In this context let us keep before us the example of Export Processing Zones in our own country where the right of simple termination is already available to employers but the employers take good care of their workers to ensure that their skilled workers do not leave jobs and go in the fold of their competitors.

ER: How do you foresee the future of Industrial Relations in the year ahead. FKS: The Industrial Relations system in the country be developed on the basis of bilateralism at the plant level and tripartism at the national level. The employers and workers of the country in general are committed to the goals of industrialization and economic development of the country and they are imbibed with the feelings of fraternity and brotherhood inheent in them by the teachings of our religion Islam. There is no reason why a good Industrial Relations structure may not be developed at the plant and national level if the leadership of the workers and employers at all level realise their national obligation and religious commitment towards each other in good faith and complete mutual trust. Let all the partners in Industrial Relations march together with complete faith in their ability to meet national challenges, infallible unity in their ranks strong enough to confront the forces of discord, ill-will and hatred and a very high level of discipline that may infuse mutual trust and confidence and sense of care for each other's needs according to the Islamic concept of social justice. Let the employers and the workers at the plant and national level sit together and bind themselves to a "Code of Conduct" which may guide them for achieving the objectives of productivity, industrialisation, employment opportunities and labour welfare. This may serve as an ideal base for the future industrial relations model in the country.

PHOTO : Fasihul Karim Siddiqui addressing the employees of Hinopak Motors on the Annual get-together
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Title Annotation:interview with Fasihul Karim Siddiqui
Publication:Economic Review
Article Type:interview
Date:May 1, 1991
Previous Article:Labour policy without consensus would be an exercise in futility.
Next Article:Difference of opinion is not confrontation.

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