Promoting fundamental principles and rights at work among cotton growing communities in Pakistan

Two awareness raising seminars were organized for the cotton growing communities of Multan district in cooperation with FAO.

Press release | Multan, Pakistan | 04 March 2019
MULTAN (ILO News): The ILO under its two projects “Promoting Fundamental Principles & Rights at Work in the Cotton Supply Chain” funded by INDITEX and “Elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour in the Cotton, Textile and Garment Value Chains: an Integrated Approach” Co-funded by the European Union (EU) jointly organized two awareness raising seminars for the Cotton Growing Communities of Multan district, in cooperation with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). These seminars, besides educating and awareness raising, provided a unique opportunity for participants to openly share their issues, challenges and discuss possible solutions.

A total of 153 participants (78 men and 75 women) representing cotton growers, pickers, farm workers and their families were sensitized around Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (FPRW) and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) participated in both the seminars. Keeping culture sensitivity in mind the sessions for men and women were organized separately. Moreover, Visual aids (pictures, animation videos and films) were used to enhance the learning process

During these seminars the representatives of Department of Labour, Saeed Ahmad Awan Centre for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (SAACIWC), Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), INDITEX, FAO, ILO and national experts interacted with the audience to raise awareness and improve understanding around FPRW and OSH. To ensure effective delivery of message and information to each participant the seminars were conducted bilingually using Saraiki, Punjabi, Urdu and English languages.

During the technical sessions of the seminars the participants were informed about their constitutional and legislative rights and improved their awareness around Child Labour, Forced Labour, Discrimination and Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining and Occupational Health and Safety.

The participants raised a number of social, economic and cultural challenges being faced by them. These included, unemployment, low wages, holidays, overtime, termination, discrimination and poverty etc. The participants were informed about the possible remedies available within the national laws and relevant regulating institutions. Also, information about existing channels to secure legal, social and economic support were discussed.

In response to the requests for support made by the farmers to make an association of progressive cotton growers and also by the cotton pickers/workers to register a union, Directors of CCRI and DoL offered their full assistance. Additionally, the participants were assured support by DoL for accessing the existing social protection floor.

At the end, the participants expressed their commitment to share the learnings of this seminar with their family members, relatives and neighboring communities. They also requested the ILO to take this initiative further at grass root level and organize farm level trainings and similar awareness seminars.