Rural Economy

Tripartite consultative meeting on findings of diagnostic study on Decent Work in Rural Economy in Pakistan

On 20th December 2017, the preliminary findings of the “Diagnostic Study on Decent Work in Rural Economy of Pakistan” were shared with tripartite-plus stakeholders. Serious efforts to create awareness, institutional arrangements and support mechanisms for rural workers to access decent work was the underlying conclusion of this national consultation.

Press release | Islamabad, Pakistan | 20 December 2017
ISLAMABAD (ILO News): Despite 61 percent of the Pakistani labour force working in rural economy, very little efforts have been made to promote Decent Work in rural sectors. Due to this factor, exploitative labour practices including child labour, bonded labour, discrimination at workplace and unsafe work practices are still in vogue in rural economic sectors. Lack of labour inspection and unionization of workers has further exacerbated the situation and there is a need for serious efforts to create awareness, institutional arrangements and support mechanisms for rural workers. This was the conclusion of a Tripartite Consultative meeting convened by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development and ILO in Islamabad.

The Consultation was organized to review the initial findings of the Diagnostic Study on ‘Promoting Decent Work in Rural Economy of Pakistan’ – jointly initiated by ILO, Ministry of OP&HRD, Employers’ Federation of Pakistan and the Pakistan Workers’ Federation. Promoting decent work in rural economy is a priority under the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP - 2016-2020) signed by the tripartite stakeholders in May 2016. The Diagnostic Study identified specific areas for joint interventions for ensuring better working conditions in rural areas at policy and operational level.

More than 60 delegates from all provinces – including Government, workers, employers, civil society organizations, development agencies, rural entrepreneurs, academics, media and one member of the National Assembly were present in the Consultation.

Mr Noor Zaman Khan, Senior Joint Secretary Ministry of OP&HRD, appreciated the initiative for focusing the rural areas – which were ignored for labour protection as well as employment creation in the past. He offered full support from the Ministry for improving labour conditions in the rural economies.

Ms Ingrid Christensen, Country Director ILO Islamabad, highlighted the major challenges in rural economies including low wages, high informality, low productivity, unsafe work practices and lack of unionization. She mentioned that as per DWCP, a detailed action plan would be developed jointly by Government, Employers and Workers – in collaboration with civil society and media – to ensure better working conditions in the rural areas.

Mr Elvis Beytullayev, Rural Economy Specialist from ILO Geneva, elaborated ILO’s global work on promoting decent work in rural areas – focusing various specific sub-sectors. He also outlined global trends and decent work situation in rural areas and presented ILO’s technical support on the subject in different countries.

The Research Team from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) presented the preliminary findings of the Diagnostic Study. The study identified various decent work deficits in rural areas of Pakistan including lack of decent jobs, prevailing child labour, lack of social protection, lack of decent wages, and vast informality. Participants took keen interest in the study and identified various rural value chains where employment could be promoted – including tea production, value-added fruit production, organic farming, honey beekeeping, sericulture, leather products, minerals, handicrafts and gemstones.

Among participants were two representatives from the newly established ‘Centre for Rural Economy’ of the Planning Commission of Pakistan. They appreciated this initiative by ILO and Ministry of OP&HRD for focusing the Rural Economy as a priority sector and they fully committed to work jointly on promoting rural economies in Pakistan.

The tripartite stakeholders of ILO will continue working towards the elimination of exploitative work practices in the rural areas in next three years and will reach out to the rural areas through various modes including partnerships with civil society organizations, media and political setup.