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Carnage continues in Pakistan’s mines as IndustriALL meets with government representatives

17 December, 2021Representatives of IndustriALL Global Union met with the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Pakistani government at the Permanent Mission in Geneva on 14 December, to address the ongoing carnage in the country’s coal mines.

The meeting came just days after three miners lost their lives in the killing fields of Pakistan’s coal mines on 10 December, Human Rights Day, bringing home the irony of the merciless assault on coal mineworkers. The latest deaths are in addition to the never-ending roll call of deaths.

IndustriALL is campaigning on health and safety in Pakistan, and is calling on the country to ratify and implement  ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines (C176). IndustriALL has worked with the government, employers, affiliated unions in Pakistan, the ILO headquarters in Geneva, and the ILO country office in Pakistan to promote the ratification of C176.

IndustriALL general secretary, Atle Høie, accompanied by assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan and the director for mining and DGOJP, Glen Mpufane, met with the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Pakistan government at the Permanent Mission of Pakistan in Geneva to push for ratification of C176. The Labour Minister at the Permanent Mission, Madam Farhat Ayesha, accompanied the Ambassador Mr. Khalil Hashmi.

Özkan briefed the Ambassador, saying that it was unacceptable that the government of Pakistan was delaying the implementation of the ILO gap analysis presented to the government and submitted to the Federal Tripartite Consultative Committee (FTCC).

“The gap analysis is an important step and milestone in the ratification process and there needs to be follow through to this milestone because these deaths keep IndustriALL awake at night,”

he said.

Mr. Hashmi explained that Pakistan’s federal constitution presented challenges, and that the governance structure of Pakistan devolved decision-making to provinces. He outlined the role of the labour ministry – the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development - in mobilizing resources needed for the ratification and implementation of C176. He gave assurances that these challenges are discussed and addressed at the FTCC.

Høie reiterated IndustriALL’s demand on the urgency and imperative for finalizing the ratification process and protocols in order to submit them to the ILO. He added:

 “While the wrangling and discussions are going on, workers were dying at an alarming rate – this points to a systemic problem within the legislative and governance system of coal mines in Pakistan, and to a situation of lawlessness.”

The productive meeting ended with agreement on the next steps, including a commitment to the ratification process by both parties, agreement to assist in the resolution of bottleneck regarding implementing the recommendation of the gap analysis, and resource mobilization towards ratification that includes capacity-building efforts. The parties would continue the dialogue and sharing of information.