– As part of the virtually only legislation of the 21st session, the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed the Punjab Industrial Relations Bill 2010 with the majority of voice votes.
The Opposition moved 12 amendments, and it did not press ten of them, while perhaps through a consensus, its two amendments were carried. However, the Opposition opposed the Bill and didn’t endorse any clause of the Bill.
Earlier, the Punjab government had initially promulgated an Ordinance in the name of Industrial Relations Ordinance on June 13 as all the labour matters were a federal subject before passage of the 18th Amendment. Now the labour ministry was devolved to the provinces. As the ordinance was promulgated by the Punjab government and it could not be re-promulgated so there was necessary to get the nod of the provincial assembly in this regard.
The Bill was moved by the Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who informed the House that the Standing Committee of the Assembly had consulted and taken into the confidence all stakeholders including employers, workers (labourers) and the legal experts.
After the passage of the Industrial Relation Bill, workers of an establishment employing not less than 50 workers can establish and join a union or association. However, a worker shall not be entitled to be a member of more than one trade union at any one time and no joining another trade.
A person who has been convicted of any offence under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) shall be disqualified from being elected office bearer of the trade union.
Under the new laws, no office bearer of a trade union shall be transferred or dismissed during the pending of an application for registration of the trade union. It envisages cancellation of a trade union’s registration upon getting less than 15 per cent votes now in two referendums to be held seeking the status of a collective bargaining agent.
Any trade union may under the signatures of its president and secretary apply to the Registrar.
The Bill also aims to involve a maximum number of staff members in trade union activities, the representation of staff members of a workplace in its trade union has been enhanced from the previous 75 percent to 80 per cent to minimize influence of non-staff trade unionists.
On the other hand, at the same time, the new laws also empower the government to order breaking of any illegal strike or lockout, or make them approach court for a decision.
The law concentrates powers of the registrar of trade unions, which previously were scattered, to eliminate ambiguity. It enhances fine for non-implementation of decisions by labour courts or the Punjab labour appellate tribunals on individual complaints from the existing Rs 20,000 to Rs 500,000.
About to ensure justice the new laws allow CBA unions and employers to approach a labour court for the redress of a complaint. It also empowers labour courts to grant interim relief in any case. In the federal law there was no such provision. The law enhances trial period of labour cases from the previous seven days to 90 and 120 days.
It also introduces minimum amounts of fine for its various violations. The Bill allows handing over of all affairs of the National Industrial Relations Commission to labour appellate tribunals, labour courts and registrar of trade unions so as to ensure continuity of trade union activities and other related matters without any break.
According to the Bill, its laws will not apply to any person who is an employ of Police or any of the Defence Services directly or connected with the Armed Forces including an ordnance factory maintained by the federal government.
The law minister Rana Sanaullah also introduced the Qarshi University Mureedke Bill 2010 that was referred to the standing committee.