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Harmonisation of industrial relations.

The myth of Communism and Socialism has now been blasted into bits by the abruptly rising tides of democratic movements in their very sanctuaries and citadels of power. It is time for so-called leftist elements in Pakistan to ponder over their conduct, attitude and modus operandi and visualise what good their anti capitalist and anti management stance would do to the workers as well as to the flourishing of industries.

Labour Management relationship in Pakistan, unfortunately, could not progress in a mutually complimentary atmosphere owing to lack of proper training, effective communication, induction of professional leadership in trade unions and above all exploitative political order. The tension and mutual distrust coupled with lack of requisite education of the workers as well as trade unions leaders in the process of cultivating harmonious relationship between the workers and the management as a condition precedent to balanced industrial activity has been causing incalculable harm to not only un-interrupted operation of industries but also to further industrial development. Irrational labour policies of Government, defective laws and mutually apathetic attitude infused by predominantly left leaning labour leadership, induction of class hatred as the main motivating slogan for mobilising labour force on the one hand and the unpleasant and unfriendly stance of industrialists towards trade unions on the other hand, greatly contributed towards division of labour and management into two hostile camps. The attitude of labour towards employer and vice versa resulted in the creation of tension and turmoil, threatening industrial peace, preventing rapprochement between them and blocking the roads which lead to the promotion of harmonious and better understanding.

It is imperative need of the time that peace and harmony should be established in the bi-partite relationship between the industrialists and the industrial workers so that the pace of industrial progress and production could be accelerated. To achieve this objective, the initiation of education programmes both for employers and employees highlighting the significance of cordial labour management relationship and the need for enhancement of productivity in industries should be launched with missionary zeal.

In this context, the role of National Institute of Labour Training (NILAT) a government organisation assumes pivotal importance, whose working and performance as an institution needs fundamental change in the discharge of its functions. NILAT also requires revolutionary changes in its methods of imparting requisite training. With a view to forging harmonious future relations between the industrial workers and industrialists so as to enable existing industries to operate more efficiently and encourage entrepreneurs to come forward for the creation of new industries.

The communication gap between the labour and management as well as between the labour representatives and the employers was also responsible for aggravating the tension and mutual distrust and widening up the gulf between them, which requires to be bridged up as a prelude to creation of harmony and mutual understanding.

It is fallacy to think that industrial labour and the industrialists are the two diametrically opposed factions pitted against each other in a state of class war which must culminate in the elimination of oppression of one by the other. The inimical and anti-pathic approach by the contending parties is the sole cause of industrial dispute and tragic conflicts, as a result of which the country has suffered colossal loss reducing its economy into shambles.

It is, indeed, encouraging to witness a pragmatic change and realisation emanating from both sides for removal of misgivings and mis-understanding by opening up bi-partite dialogues. The SITE Association along with Employers Federation have taken the initiative and commenced proposed bipartite meetings with prominent labour leaders representing various labour federations. The talks in such meetings have been open minded, frank and very inspiring and reflect willingness and desire of labour leaders as well as representatives of employers to develop closer coordination, cooperation and mutual deliberations on points of common interest and to sort out all the disturbing issues by sitting across the table. Both parties have also agreed to work out a code of conduct to regulate labour management relationship in future and to ensure cordiality and harmony between them. Shockingly enough, the organized trade union leadership as well as the industrialists in their headlong collusion course to tumble down each other failed to comprehend the vicious game played by predominantly feudal political leadership whose vested interest appeared jeopardised by the process of massive industrialization of the country as in that they saw the destruction of their ancestral rural base. The politicians were apprehensive of the rising political consciousness of the industrial workers who time and again proved to be dauntless fighters of their civic rights and political adversaries of the dictatorial rule in Pakistan. The docility, ignorance and miserably imonerished condition of farm workers/labourers placed them completely at the mercy of feudal lords, whose absolute dominance ensured perpetuation of their political power in the Parliament of the country. This state of affairs suited the politicians who feared the expansion of industrial base in the country would bring awakening the political enlightenment to the farm workers as well, as a result of which their monopolistic political control would eventually be destroyed. Hence they formed such labour policies and legislated such labour which created more chaos and confusion in the settlement of industrial disputes and more bitterness between the industrial workers and the management. In addition to that they also pursued such political policies whereby they could insight greater ill-will and antipathy against industrialists by portraying them as tax evaders, exploiters and usurpers of workers' rights. Unfortunately, both the trade union leaders and the industrialists fell victim of this well planned conspiracy of the politicians and virtually came to the verge of destroying the industries altogether. However, after great deal of suffering and enduring hardships both the parties are now realising the folly of their senseless and irrational quarrels and are willing to rectify their mistakes.

The representatives of the workers can be bifurcated in two categories. First category of leadership comprises of graduates, who initially appeared as Law Advisers to workers, but later on turned into Labour Leaders. These leaders display moderate attitude towards employers and often manifest a positive approach to problems. The other category consists of persons who have been forced into Leadership by the circumstances, such as fighting a personally prolonged legal battle in courts against their employer for reinstatement in service and running around in law courts in the process of developing contacts with labour and Government offices give them a fair chance to study and thus familiarising themselves with labour laws, courts etc. and plunging into the arena as champions of workers' rights. Unfortunately, these types are more existence and are often found to be prejudiced in attitude towards employers, militant in activities which make them more popular amongst the un-educated working force. Neither the workers nor the industry has gained anything from these militant leaders and their activities have closed many prosperous industries, resulted in long term dispute, hindrance of industrial growth and production.

In employers also we have two types. One is professionally managed organisation and the other run by self employed owners. Relations between Labour-Management in professionally run business are much better and normally employers in such organisations are more happy with their jobs. Foreign companies, Multinationals and some National organisations are among such organisations. On the other hand, owners self managed organisations are again split up in two types. Where the self employed owner is educated, Labour-Management relations are satisfactory in most cases. In most of the organisations run by low educated owners, relations between Labour-Management are not cordial and examples originating from such organisations are painful.

To summarise from the above fact one can foresee the coming events in the field of Labour-Management relations as positive and in the year 1990 and onwards Pakistan would be moving towards this goal. To achieve the cordial relations and to march hand in hand into the future, both the employees and employees have to learn from the past mistakes and recognise the very existence of each other in terms of reality, share the prosperity of industrialisation so that the employee is not refused the legitimate needs of his life and the employer gets a suitable return for his efforts and investment.

It is, indeed, necessary that both have now realised the need of the hour and soon we will see the labour-management trust which existed in the past shall now move towards peaceful co-existence and now it would not only be the investor left alone to protect his investment but the employee would invest his labour equally to bring a boost to the investment and to the economy of the country. In this way, more jobs would be created which means less unemployment, less problems and more development.

It is heartening to note that initial contacts between the Labour Federation Leaders and the employers have recognised all the above mentioned factors and have developed a will to bring about a change in the system of Labour-Management relations and I am confident that 1990 would be the year in which a major breakthrough will come and God willing a new system, a new code of relations, a close understanding of each other with a spirit of close cooperation, with a democratic feeling, respect of human values, growth of an Industrial Pakistan is the destiny of our's and jointly realising that in the past all attempts were made to destabilise Labour-Management relations by the Feudals.

Television is the most important public media for promoting harmony, goodwill and better understanding amongst the different segments of our society but it is very painful and highly deplorable phenomenon for us to witness the deliberate, systematic and malicious attempt on the part of various programme producers of PTV, be it a drama or a stage show or any socio cultural programme, the industrialists/entrepreneurs are made targets of character assassination in various forms.

It is an un-deniable fact that the industrialists have played a significant role in the socio-economic development of the country and have laid the foundation of the industrial development. Every year millions of rupees are spent by industrialists in the programmes of social uplift and social welfare of the down-trodden people. It is, indeed, a highly abhorrent act to create and intensify class conflict and class hatred by making the industrialists scape-goat of all the social vices and economic evils that pervade the society today.

In national interest it is essential that the media acts as a mirror and reflect only what is true. The media should help in strengthening the bond of mutual understanding between labour and management so that it may result in a prosperous era for the worker and entrepreneur. Mr. AHSANULLAH KHAN (56), Director Shahsons Ltd., is the Senior Vice Chairman, SITE Association. He is a Trustee of Employees Old Age Benefit Institution. Mr. Khan is the member Advisory Committee, Technical Training, Govt. of Sindh. He is associated with Employers Federation of Pakistan as Member Managing Committee . He is also the Convenor, SITE Citizen Police Liaison Committee. He is a renowned social worker.
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Publication:Economic Review
Date:May 1, 1990
Previous Article:Labour policy should reflect workers aspirations.
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