ILO conducts a customized training on occupational safety and health for handloom small/ micro enterprises

The ILO, Pakistan under its International Labour and Environmental Standards Application in Pakistan's SMEs (ILES) project, funded by the European Union, conducts customised trainings on Occupational Safety and Health for handloom small and micro enterprises in Islampur, Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Press release | Swat, Pakistan | 06 January 2022
SWAT (ILO News): The ILO Country Office in Pakistan, under its European Union funded International Labour and Environmental Standards Application in Pakistan’s SMEs (ILES) project, organised a two-day customised occupational safety and health (OSH) training for handloom small/ micro enterprises in Islampur, Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, from 26 to 27 November 2021. A total of 80 participants from more than 40 different production units participated in the training.

Swat’s cottage industry in Islampur is one of the oldest shawl producing industry of Pakistan, with more than 3,000 handloom units owned by different individuals. The majority of these units are working informally and are not registered, yet attract a wide range of buyers from Pakistan and abroad due to the quality of shawls produced. 

During the training, the workers and owners of participating units were introduced to various best practices around promoting safe and healthy working environment and were facilitated in designing improvement plans based on OSH for their relevant production units that were evidently low cost/ no cost in nature.

While speaking at the event and acknowledging the need of such trainings for the Islampur industrial area, the representative from the Islampur Handlooms’ Cottage Industry Association shared that for the Islampur industry to prosper, there is a dire need that more customised trainings are organised for the workers and management including trainings on effective marketing, OSH and e-marketing. This will help the producers sell their products in a wider range of markets, reduce the vulnerability of the industry to the middleman and thus enable the industry to increase its net profits which will also provide them basis to further expand their businesses.

Dr Yousaf Sarwar, representing the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan, and Mr Irfan Khan, Deputy Director, Department of Labour, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also echoed the words of the Islampur Handlooms’ Cottage Industry Association and added that the owners of the units have to realise that expense in OSH is not a cost but an investment. If there are healthy and happy workers, their net productivity will be better that will have positive impacts on their businesses. They also stressed that the enterprises working informally shall register themselves with the government so that they can access further benefits offered by the Government of Pakistan, including social security benefits.

Ms Ingrid Christensen, Country Director, ILO Country Office in Pakistan, who was also present at the training, while speaking to the participants said that she was glad to see that the training was able to inspire the owners and workers and many interesting initiatives were identified. She expressed hope that as a next step many such ideas can be materialised which would greatly help improve OSH conditions in the Islampur industry. She further noted that safe and healthy working conditions is key for the prevention of accidents and diseases at work and to business sustainability.

The training was also attended by representatives from Pakistan Workers’ Federation, Mutahida Labour Front and Insaaf Workers’ Federation.

The event was covered by local media of Swat and can be accessed using the following link.