Capital: Islamabad
Population: 185.04m. (2014 est.)

Pakistan ratifed ILO Convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948) in 1951 and Convention No. 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949) in 1952.

The condition of trade union rights in Pakistan owes a great deal to the modern industrial law framework of Pakistan that was established by the Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969, which excluded many key industries from its scope. Workers in these industries had no statutory rights to register trade unions or to achieve recognition as the Collective Bargaining Agent. Without protection from criminal and tort law any union activity in these sectors involved significant risks. Additional powers existed to ban strikes, backed by criminal penalties. Despite the restrictions, unions have long operated, even in the excluded sectors, but arrests and harassment are reported. The legal framework changed in 2008, when Constitutional and legal reform devolved industrial law to the provincial level, resulting in a complex and varying approach, though for the most part these still reflect the 1969 model.

For decades, Pakistan has experienced trade union fragmentation and division, with divergences between the unions opening on political, ethnic, linguistic and regional lines.There have been several attempts over the past twenty years or so to unite the trade union movement, most significantly converging around two similarly named organisations, the Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) and the Pakistan Workers Confederation (PWC). While there is a great deal of overlap between the PWF and PWC there are important federations working within the PWC structures that are not part of the PWF.The PWF is itself a politically diverse national centre, which is affiliated to the ITUC. The PWC is an umbrella group that includes a still broader range of affiliates, from the far-left through to centrist and reformist right. Many of the federations within these groups retain their identity as autonomous entities, and there are also national level unions that remain unaffiliated to either, as well as labour organisations with strong regional identities.

Full details of the country's political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profile: Pakistan, from Trade Unions of the World (2016)

Link to letterIntervention letter: anti-union statements from Chief Judge (2018)

Link to letterIntervention letter: arrest of rail union leaders (2017)

Link to letterIntervention letter: anti-union harassment (2016)

Link to reportIUR article: 'Working Class of Pakistan Struggling for
Safe and Healthy Working Conditions', Ahmad


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