This book is a collection of essays on labour market governance. First two essays deal with the subject of tripartism and social dialogue first in Pakistan and then as a comparison between India and Pakistan. The essays explain the how trade union movement dealt with the onslaught of deregulation and privatization in the sub-continent. First essay explains the weakening of trade union movement over the years in Pakistan and explains the state of tripartism in the country. These essays were written by the author as independent studies during studies at ILR School, Cornell University. These have been updated to include new data and information.
Third essay deals with trade-labour linkage and explores its historical backgrounds. It examines the tariff preference schemes, grant of GSP+ status to Pakistan by the EU, analyses Pakistan’s performance on account of core labour standards in the last three years and provides an objective overview of the progress and challenges facing labour market governance in the country.
Iftikhar’s work combines labour history with details of deregulation and privatization in the recent decades and provides a riveting account of (lack of) tripartism not only in Pakistan but also in India. While the public sector unions were able to sign an accord with the state to protect their rights in the wake of privatization of state owned enterprises, no such example is available for the private sector in South Asia.
There is a need to scrap enterprise level bargaining and replace it with industrial/sectoral bargaining. This can be done by going back 90 years and incorporating the progressive provisions of Trade Union Act 1926, applicable in Pakistan till 1968 (though in a much mutilated form through amendments in 1960 and 1961 whereby minimum membership requirements were inserted and outsiders were no longer allowed to be part of executive unless they were paid full time employees of the union). Mr. Jinnah played a pivotal role in passage of the Act in 1926 by Imperial Legislative Council of which he was a member. Moreover, he was elected as the President of All India Postal Staff Union in 1925.
The part on trade and labour is a must read for understanding the fundamental challenges in ensuring compliance with core labour standards, especially in the wake of GSP+.
Karamat Ali, Veteran Trade Union Activist and Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research
It is a well-researched book and gives insight into the history and dynamics of the trade union struggles in the Indian subcontinent. All the benefits the trade unions have gained were not gifted by the elite states but were won by the workers struggles and sacrifices. The 1969 labour laws and the labour reforms granted in the 1973 constitution were due to the pressure of the 1968-69 revolutionary upsurge in Pakistan. This book would be of vital importance for those who are involved in trade unions and those committed to the politics of class struggle.
Lal Khan, Editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign