The future of work and the significance of effective collective bargaining and negotiations

The Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains (LSGSC) project, funded by German Ministry for Development Cooperation (BMZ) & Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO) completed a four-day training on collective bargaining and negotiations skills during 24-27 September 2018 in Lahore, Pakistan.

Press release | Lahore, Pakistan | 05 October 2018
LAHORE (ILO News) - A four day training on collective bargaining and negotiations skills was organized by the ILO's Labour Standards in Global Supply Chain’s (LSGSC) project during 24-27 September 2018 in Lahore, Pakistan. An intensive three-day course on negotiation skills was designed for employers and workers organizations. Around 60 constituents participated in the training. The International Training Centre of the ILO (ITC/ILO) supported the design and delivery of the training. The first day of the training looked at the issue of collective bargaining in the global context, its application in Pakistan and the role of tripartite stakeholders in its strengthening.

Mr Zahoor Awan, General Secretary Pakistan Workers Federation and member Governing Body of ILO, spoke about the trade union perspective on collective bargaining. He drew the attention of the participants to the many challenges that continue to hinder the trade union movement around the world. Some of these are gaps in the legislation and their varying interpretation by different stakeholders, lack of coverage of informal economy, legitimate representation and gender inequalities. Speaking of the remedies he recognised the benefits of social dialogue for both workers and employers.

In her opening remarks, Ms Ingrid Christensen, Country Director ILO Pakistan, explained the evolving complexities of the future of work and the opportunities it holds for stakeholders to use social dialogue for harmonious industrial relations. She stressed on the need for an enabling environment, exchange of information and good practices necessary for ensuring effective and transparent collective bargaining.

Mr William Thomson, co-trainer, facilitated a discussion with Ms Ingrid Christensen and Mr Fernando Fonseca Senior Program Officer ITC/ILO on the framework of collective bargaining addressing some inhibiting myths; clarifying the role and structure of ILO; the application of International Labour Standards; the role and obligations of member states and social partners.

The training featured lively discussions through group work, role plays and mocks which helped participants practice key techniques of needs and interest based negotiations, exploring best alternatives to negotiated agreements. The participants also reflected on commonly made mistakes during negotiations, moving away from adversarial to mutually acceptable positions.

As a result of the training the participants identified key priority issues: data and knowledge sharing, communication and consultation, that they would like to address in their respective roles and organizations to promote effective social dialogue.

Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining in Pakistan

The ratification of Convention 87 on Right of Association and Convention 98 on Right of Collective Bargaining by Pakistan in the earlier years after independence, paved the way for adoption of legislation favouring workers' right of association and collective bargaining. Following the 18th amendment to the constitution, the enactment of the provincial legislation on industrial relations has been ground breaking for the trade union movement. However, issues like informal economy, exclusions of categories of workers from the right to organise, thresholds on formation of unions and collective bargaining agents and complexities related to the transnational establishments negatively impact the trade unions.