Garment sector stakeholders’ firm on ensuring compliance with labour standards

GSSF members concurred that policy and advocacy on formulating a wage policy framework is a key step towards minimum wage reforms.

Press release | Islamabad, Pakistan | 19 December 2018
ISLAMABAD (ILO News): A meeting of the Garment Sector Stakeholders’ Forum (GSSF) was held in Islamabad on 6th December, as part of creating linkages between sector stakeholders by the International Labour Organization (ILO) project ‘Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains: A Programme of Action for Asia and the Garment Sector’ (LSGSC), funded by BMZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in collaboration with Labour Standards Programme of the GIZ. The meeting saw the participation of 35 sector stakeholders including provincial departments of labour, academic institutions, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, industry associations and employers and workers organisations amongst others.

Ms Romina Kochius, Program Manager, Labour Standards Programme GIZ, shared the approach of the Labour Standards Program and said that the GSSF meetings has provided an opportunity and space to table and discuss various issues and challenges related to the textile sector; it had also enabled sector stakeholders to converge, design and implement projects that contribute to the sustainability of the sector. The joint collaboration of the ILO and GIZ in convening the meetings of the GSSF added value to the Forum as ILO brought along its expertise being a norms setting organisation and GIZ its technical experience in developing and implementing enterprise based tools and approaches to increase productivity, added Ms Kochius.

The GSSF meeting featured a detailed presentation on the outcomes, opportunities and lessons learnt under the ILO project on Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains: A Programme of Action for Asia and the Garment Sector’ (LSGSC), which is due to at the end of 2018. Participants discussed the need for institutionalising some of the results and shared ideas for scaling up action and creating more impact. These included the continuation of the Garment Sector Stakeholders’ Forum meetings and more importantly the discourse on minimum wage reforms through periodic consultations. The participants also thought that the work around knowledge creation under the LSGSC project had significant value and that the findings of the studies on gender pay gap and the situation analysis of wages and working conditions for home-based workers could particularly be used for informing provincial policies on labour protection including vulnerable groups specially, women and workers in the informal sectors.

While discussing opportunities for future collaboration, participants suggested scaling up the pilot activities such as the expansion of minimum wages to cover glass bangle industry as a model case to other sectors in the informal economy. Participants also discussed the need to study prevalence of piece rate work in the textile sector and how wages can be set for piece rate workers. Other recommendations include enterprise level initiatives for more immediate tangible results and outcomes on enterprise improvement and productivity. The participants emphasised that more needs to be done to improve industrial relations including streamlining the legislation and sensitizing both employers and workers to consider dispute resolution through constructive negotiation. In this regard, Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanisms need to be mapped, documented and engaged.

Stakeholders agreed that the evidence base generated by the LSGSC project on wage setting and implementation, gender inequalities in wages, home-based workers and good practices of collective bargaining arrangements had contributed to the national level dialogue and advocacy. It was suggested that these resources should be shared widely with the aim of raising awareness among workers and employers across the textile value chain especially on issues of gender wage inequalities and informality.

Mr Fasih Karim Siddiqui, representing, Employers Federation of Pakistan, said that the LSSGC project has stirred dialogue, instilled the philosophy and the need for devising a wage management system. He went on to say that the LSGSC project had demonstrated how different approaches and methodologies for minimum wage determination could look like and it was the responsibility of the stakeholders; employers and workers organisations to work towards harmonised and balances approaches that are feasible in the context of Pakistan, Mr Siddiqui added.

Participants agreed that the linkages between sector stakeholders and knowledge exchange should continue to take place through the GSSF and other platforms convened by the ILO. For sustainability, it was also suggested that a directory of all the partners trained under the LSGSC project on various themes including wage policy, negotiations skills, trade union effectiveness should be developed so that these resources can be engaged for awareness raising at provincial and national levels.

The ILO will continue to engage with different stakeholders to bolster the efforts of the ILO project on Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains: A Programme of Action for Asia and the Garment Sector’ (LSGSC).