ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a consultative workshop supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Quetta said ratification of ILO Safety and Health in Mines Convention will ensure the rights of Pakistan’s 300,000 mine workers.
Representatives of government departments, workers and employers’ organizations examined ways to promote occupational safety and health in mines at the consultation organized by the All-Pakistan Labour Foundation (APLF) and Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCLMF), said a press release issued by ILO here on Saturday.
The participants agreed to intensify the campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention No. 176, to ensure workplace safety and social security coverage for Pakistan’s mine workers. 34 countries have so far ratified Convention 176 which came into force in 1995, but not Pakistan.
“The ratification of Convention 176 is central to achieving decent work in a sector that is particularly prone to accidents and injuries. It is an essential tool for resolving the challenge of occupational safety and health in Pakistan’s mining industry,” said Geir Tonstol, Country Director of ILO in Pakistan.
He further recalled that a significant proportion of workers in Pakistan’s mining sector, especially casual labourers were not able to access social protection, as they were not recognized as mine employees. “I am encouraged by the initiative of our social partners to establish a trade union platform of action on OSH in mines here in Baluchistan. The ILO is committed to providing the technical assistance required to create safer, healthier, and more inclusive workplaces for all,” Geir Tonstol added.
Lala Sultan Khan, President of APLF, welcomed the participants and highlighted the challenges faced by mine workers, and called for joint actions using Trade Union Platforms, such as those in Baluchistan. “It is crucial to have a thorough understanding of the country’s mining operations. Regular provincial and federal consultations are overdue to address mining sector challenges and enhance worker safety,” Sultan Khan emphasized.
Mines in Pakistan employ around 300,000 workers and contribute significantly to the GDP of the country. Accidents and injuries are reported every year. Workers at mining sites in Pakistan are often not provided with appropriate skills training to execute the work allocated to them and they are unaware of potential hazards.
In June 2022, the International Labour Conference took a historic step by incorporating “a safe and healthy working environment” into the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work.