April 29, 20130

Room # 3, Falaknuma Bldg.
39 Abdullah Haroon Rd.
Karachi, 74700
Phone: (021)32727266

Date: 29-04-2013

Circular Number: C-139


We would like to explain and give our comments on the above new law as under:-

1- After the 18th amendment of the Constitution, and labour becoming exclusive subject of the provinces, the provinces of Punjab, K.P. and Balochistan made their separate laws on the Industrial Relations but the Sindh Govt. instead of making it’s separate law adopted the Industrial Relations Act, 2008 by the I.R. (Revival and Amendment) Act, 2010. For the residuary matters the Federal Govt. made IRA, 2012 but there are controversies on some of it’s provisions overstepping on the Jurisdiction of the provinces.

2- By necessary legal implication IRA, 2008 has now become a dead law.

3- After so much delay the Sindh Govt. has also made it’s separate law called the Sindh Industrial Relations Act, 2013 on the lines of the other 3 provinces, and we would like to give our comments only on it’s some salient features as under:–

i- Section 1(3), it’s application extends also to fishing and agriculture for the first time which is very significant. In                            it’s  sub-clause (viii) the words “commercial basis” have been added to exclude education or emergency services                            not run on commercial basis.
ii- Section 2(xvi) extends it’s application on fishing, agriculture, mining and a few other industries departing from the                      past.
iii- The Proviso under Section 3(i) provides for the first time the unions to have proportionate women office bearers in                      executive and office bearers of the union which is encouraging but female workers still avoid to become office                                bearers of the unions.
iv- Section 6(d) has been modified to limit previous outside office bearers of the union from 25% to 20%.
v- Section 9(4) provides provisional registration of trade unions till further orders which would create controversies.                        The emphasis should have been on speedy investigation and registration of the unions.
vi- Section 22(1) deals with federation and confederation of trade unions.
vii- Section 24 deals with the CBA and it’s sub-clause (2) provides the union having at least one-fifth membership of                          the total workers in the establishment or group of establishments or industry to be included by the Registrar of                            Trade Unions to hold within 15 days secret ballot to determine the CBA. The significant change in the law has been                      made to include the employers and the Government also to make such application for determination of CBA.
viii- Three separate bodies of the shop stewards, workers management council and the workers participation in                                      management with overlapping functions have been still retained by section 28 to 30 of the Act which would create                        confusion and duplication. Instead of three bodies having duplicate and over lapping functions there should be                            only one body which may include functions of these three bodies, to avoid conflicts and confusion.
ix- Section 34 deals with redress of individual grievances by the Labour Courts on the same lines as Section 41, IRA,                            2008 and the period of punishment of imprisonment of one year has been reduced and made reasonable to three                          months but the fine has been fantastically enhanced to Rs. Five Lakhs. Either or both punishments could be given                        which is unreasonable as the workers and employers cannot be treated as criminals, they do make mistakes which                       may attract penal provision in it but emphasis should be on reform and not to use it as excuse to collect more funds                     for the Government.
x- Section 45(4) (g) empowers the Labour Court to also give interim relief as it may deem fit.
xi- There could be more than one appellate tribunals as provided by Section 48 and the period of 90 days given in sub-                       Section (11) directory and not mandatory as held by the Superior Courts but it’s subsection (12) provides interim                           Stay Order given by the Tribunal shall stand vacated if the case is not decided within 90 days which may induce                            speedy decisions.

4- Penal provisions – Sections 65 – 74 once again emphasize on collecting fantastically heavy fines going to the funds of the provincial govts. and not to the aggrieved person/party instead of sentences of imprisonment. The workers and employers cannot be treated as criminals. They do commit mistakes which may attract the penal provisions of the Act. Such heavy fines appear to be a tool for collecting heavy amounts of fines under the garb of imposing fines. Such heavy fines deserve to be reduced and made reasonable and like fines under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 here also fines collected should not go to any party, person or the Govt. but the same be spent on collective welfare measures for benefit of the workers to be taken by the employers of the establishments.

5- Transfers of cases from NIRC to the Tribunal or Labour Court have been provided by Section 81.

6- The above paras cover only the main features of the Act. For further details the Act may be carefully and diligently perused.

For M/s S. M. Yaqoob


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