Gender Unit Department of labour Punjab

The Problem

Official statistics of the Labour Force Survey 2010-11 indicate that 73.8 percent of the workforce is working in the informal sector. A large number of small and medium scale industries such as textile, leather, metal and pharmaceutical factories are operating in Pakistan without any moral and legal obligation for workers’ occupational health, safety and social protection. In these factories, occupational health and safety measures are given no importance and employers tend to deny medical treatment and financial compensation to workers in case of permanent injury or death in an industrial accident.
According to the Pakistan Labour and Human Resource Statistics, the number of industrial accidents increased from 354 to 419 during 2000 to 2008. In year 2011 alone, the reported number of fatal accidents went up to 101. PILER highlighted the recent collapse of a three-storey building of a pharmaceutical company on February 6, 2012 in a residential area of Lahore after a boiler explosion, killing at least 25 people. On ground, the labour protection and inspection mechanism is totally missing and employers are free to violate their legal obligation to provide occupational health and safety environment. Workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals and other harmful substances and there is no concept of workers’ health and safety at the workplace. Women stand further disadvantaged because of their marginalization and isolation to specific trades and processes that are often neglected and remain invisible even in the labour force participation rate. Their status is further worsened by this discrimination; glass ceiling, occupational segregation, in equal wage payment, sexual harassment at work place amongst other issues. Women are a diverse group that includes workers in the informal economy and rural, migrant, indigenous, minority and young women, each with specific needs. Poverty has been increasingly feminized; the gender pay gap persists; and there is a lack of work in all its forms, including full-time work. Discrimination related to pregnancy and maternity occurs and horizontal and vertical segregation persists in the labour market. Women predominate in part-time work. During the course of a woman’s life, transition phases also tend to create specific challenges. Despite advances in educational levels, women are over-represented in low paying jobs; women are underrepresented in executive, management and technical positions; many women suffer poor working conditions; gender based violence occurs at all stages of women’s lives; in some situations paid domestic labour has remained as one of the few options for women including migrants; HIV/AIDS increasingly affect young, poor females. More women than men work in the informal economy, where decent work deficits are the most serious. Lack of social security, the gender pay gap, low pay in general, inadequate working conditions, exploitation and abuse including sexual harassment, and the absence of voice and representation are exacerbated for women because of the additional responsibilities of their reproductive role and lack of access to resources and affordable services.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The Gender Responsive Labour inspection toolkit gives an overview of national labour laws and international labour standards which are key to achieving gender equality. It further provides practical checklists and tips to make labour inspection gender-responsive in accordance with the provisions in these laws that apply to both women and men in the world of work. The GRLI toolkit includes an expanded scope of inspection. Some of these areas are overlooked in the traditional labour inspection system such as maternity benefits, sexual harassment, and trainings for equal employment opportunity amongst others. The addition of these indicators will help labour inspectors recommend employers to introduce worker friendly practices at workplace that help in worker retention and increased productivity.

The following benefitted from the use of the toolkit:
Labour inspectors. Whatever area of inspection for which evidence is being gathered, labour inspectors ensured women are represented in the data collection process, ideally in proportion to the number of women in the establishment under inspection. Ensure any data that is collected, is sex disaggregated. Most simply, when recording the total number of employees, list women and men, at all levels, separately. If the number of complaints lodged is being recorded, try to register the number of complaints lodged by women and men separately. Such information is crucial in understanding the gendered dimensions of work and the labour force and can provide important evidence for policy and programme interventions.

In interviews, whether they are being conducted with workers, managers or trade unions include women and record their perspective. If records are being checked, be they wage slips, registration of accidents or complaints filed, ensure a sample of women's records are checked and note if there is any gender based discrepancy. For example, if there is a pattern of women being paid less than men for similar work, this should be recorded as a violation. If there is a pattern of workplace related accidents amongst women, especially if women and men are doing the same work, check that the safety equipment provided is correct for women – it has been found that protective masks for instance, are made to standard size specifications which are often based on men bone structures rather than women's – and suggest remedial action accordingly. If training and promotion records are being checked, and it appears that women are not getting the same opportunities as men, ask management and workers, women and men, why that might be so. There might be a perfectly straightforward explanation, for instance new machinery is only being operated at night during the men's shift and that is why men are offered training on its use, or there might be a gender bias at play – it might have been perceived that women would not be interested in training or that training was offered during after work hours, which made it difficult for them to attend, and that is something that the inspector can point out for record. If it is observed that women are not represented in trade unions or management, make note of it.
The toolkit has answered all questions of workers or their representatives may have related to working conditions, occupational safety and health, social security, and labour rights and obligations. It will also ensure that workers' rights as explained in the legislation are better understood accepted and, therefore, better applied. Most of all the GRLI toolkit has benefitted women in raising their concerns and the labour inspectorate in designing interventions to facilitate women by ensuring workplace environment and working conditions are at par with the international standards.
The gender responsive labour inspection tool has also helped employers to assess their level of compliance with national labour legislation and promote innovative legal and/or technical solutions.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The solution was proposed by the Gender Unit. The toolkit was identified, developed, pilot tested and finalized by the Gender Focal Person. The toolkit was useful for all the stakeholders including: policy makers, implementers, inspectors, employers, employees and researchers.

ILO was the donor and Department of Labour and its staff was the developer. The employers, employees and industries also provided useful feedback to finalize this toolkit.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Strategic level advocacy with stakeholders for the approval and implementation of the GRLI was done by the GFP. He ensured Policy level commitment through lobbying with relevant individuals, departments and stakeholders. As a result labour inspection has been reinvigorated. Another strategy was to take on board employers and develop something that puts them at ease and they feel comfortable becoming part of the inspection system. Continuous advocacy with employer organizations helped in their buy in and in convincing them to take volunteer for pilot testing. Another strategy was to include women workers, this could only be done by proposing amendments to the functional operation of labour inspection and by facilitating the inspection by building capacity of the inspection staff in carrying out their duty. The objective was to attain ownership from the department of Labour, concurrence from stakeholders including employers and to bridge stakeholders and relevant actors at workplace with issues and their solutions through the application of the holistic module on inspection.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
To begin the Gender Focal Person (GFP), Tahir Manzoor, Department of Labour Punjab took the lead, reviewed the
current inspection system and identified several gaps that led to gender blind information being collected. These
gaps included the absence of questions which could identify the situation of women workers, for instance
there were no questions on maternity benefits; the absence of gender analysis of the data collected, for
instance when examining records there was no requirement to ensure women’s wage records were also
checked and then analysed with reference to men’s to assess if there was any discrimination in the payment of
wages for work of equal value; and constraints such as male inspectors finding it difficult to meet and talk to
women workers, a reluctance that stems from cultural constraints and works both ways.
Based on this gap analysis, GFP Punjab developed a checklist of questions related to each of the 8 major laws
against which labour inspection is conducted, described techniques and provided guidance on how to use the
checklist to collect information that captured the differing experiences and situations of women and men workers.
This checklist was reviewed by the GFPs of all the other provinces and refined according to their input. The
checklist was further substantiated by reference material such as International Labour Standards (ILS) from which
the national labour laws are derived, and background information on labour inspection and gender mainstreaming.
The toolkit was reviewed by the Gender Specialist, ILO Decent Work Team, New Delhi and several labour and
inspection experts. The second step was to introduce labour inspectors to gender responsive labour inspection and how to use the toolkit. More than 70 inspectors and officers were given orientation training on gender mainstreaming and gender responsive labour inspection. 42 labour inspectors participated in 3 model labour
inspections in Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore, where the toolkit was tested. Feedback was taken from employers
and labour inspectors to assess how gender responsive labour inspection differed from traditional labour
Inspection. The feedback received on the application of the Gender Responsive Labour Inspection (GRLI) toolkit was compiled to show how it differs from traditional inspection and the different ways in which the checklist can be used. In fact, he feedback shows that the GRLI toolkit is not just a ‘gender’ add-on to labour inspection, but in fact a comprehensive, systematic, gender mainstreamed guide to labour inspection.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
One of the main problem was the number of labor laws that were to be reviewed in specific time frame and the most to obtain approval from government department. This was overcome by consulting secondary sources of information: ILO’s studies and labour law reviews and advocacy with legislative experts on the gender assessment of legal framework.
A second obstacle was the identification of labour laws with gender lens with willingness of government officials, concerned officials were continuously sensitized and given conceptual clarity on gender issues at workplace, gendered labour inspection and gender labour law review.
The third problem was the reaction of employers who used to think that labour inspection is a way to scrutinize and penalize them. Business cases were developed to convince employers to invest in workers rights through adherence to labour standards.
The last problem was the getting the secretary labour to notify the implementation of GRLI for its mainstream use. This was overcome by holding a consultative meeting with interested employers on how they can become part of the labour inspection system and use it as a self regulation volunteer tool to improve their businesses, the working conditions of their workers and their productivity. Employers were apprised of the fact that ensuring decent work promotes trade and social linkages that has direct effect on their businesses.
As a result the Department of labour Punjab has notified the mainstream use of GRLI across the province.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Both financial, technical and human resource were mobilized. The financial was funded by ILO
The technical team was provided by Department of Labors, Pakistan and the Decent Work team New Delhi. The key benefits are that a knowledge product is readily available and in the aftermath of the second largest factory fires in two capital cities in Punjab and Sindh, the toolkit is being promoted to be used widely to ensure that labour inspection is effectively in place. The staff of the Department of Labour have been trained and sensitized on the application of the GRLI. Thus benefitting the DoLs officials in performing their duties better.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Yes the initiative is already in used by the DoL. After the notification of the GRLI, it will now be applied in the field throughout the province. A total of 1200 labour inspectors will be trained on its use. The initiative can also be transferred in regional offices (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladash) since the labor laws and practices are almost similar in the region; South Asia.
The GRLI toolkit will be scaled out to informal economy thus benefit the home based workers or self employed workers. The toolkit will also be replicated to other provinces by training of labour inspectors and standardization of the use of toolkit. The toolkit will be developed into training modules on 10 occupational areas that fall under the purview of labour inspection. A self assessment interactive interface will also be developed for labour inspectors to monitor their performance and their understanding of gender issues at workplace. The GRLI toolkit has a supplementary module for employers to self regulate their operations and ensure gender responsive actions for both women and men at workplace.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
One of the key impact is the promotion of gender equality.
- promote women participation in labour industry
- promote equal right and empowerment of women
- availability of gender stats from various perspective
- data and information available for researcher and development professional
- women will have right to freedom of association and through that they will be able to hold office bearing positions and other leadership positions
- improved dignity of work of women and recognizing of contribution of women in the informal economy
Lessons learnt:
• Training: There are too few inspectors, and they are not adequately equipped and trained to measure the risks and establish a scientific link between the health problems raised by the workers and the hazards posed by the use of raw material and products in their workplace. And even when a link is demonstrated, inspectors are often put under strong pressure to keep quiet. Workers’ complaints are still largely ignored and the use of the products continues under the same conditions.
• Lack of resources: There is widespread concern that labour inspection services in many. Asian countries are not able to carry out their roles and functions. They are often understaffed, under-equipped, and under-trained and underpaid. Small transport and travel budgets and inadequate means of communication and record-keeping also hinder their capacity to perform inspections and take the necessary follow-up action. The squeeze on labour inspection resources can also put severe strain on the professionalism, independence and impartiality of inspectors
• Gender issues are another case in point. Although women are increasingly joining the labour market in recent years, inspectorates have rarely been prepared for this phenomenon. Often, they are still all-men and little consideration is given to the risks specifically affecting women. Similarly, not many labour inspectors are women. Only 2 of them in Punjab and 2 in Sindh have been notified.
• Professional Ethics and Pressure: Strict respect for professional ethics can also lead to problems. The inspectors who show the most zeal in this regard are more likely to experience harassment, up to and including threats to their lives or actual arbitrary dismissal. All of which demonstrates the importance of organizing inspectors in trade unions. Another problem is the constraint to implement sanctions provided for by law when a workplace fails to come up to standard. These are often so derisory that they undermine the work of the inspectors.
• Inspectors impose serious burdens on business: From an employer’s perspective, observance of prescribed standards can sometimes jeopardize employment, since expenditures on safety, health and working conditions are presented as being at the cost of other more necessary investments. However, if the inspector failed to act and an accident took place, the inspectorate would be exposed to public outcry. The measures required by inspectors are to be proportional to the risk they aim to avoid. Employers however, are often not familiar with measures they could easily implement to facilitate compliance or to transform compliance into good business.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Gender Unit Department of labour Punjab
Institution Type:   Academia  
Contact Person:   Tahir Manzoor
Title:   Gender Focal Person  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  
Country:   Pakistan

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