KARACHI: The GSP-plus status given to Pakistan would bring a welcome change by doubling Pakistani exports and creating new jobs in the country. It would also help improving working conditions of labours as the government and industrialists have to follow 27 international convention regarding basic human rights and labour laws.
Yousuf Baloch, Chairman National Trade Union Federation, says under the General System of Preference (GSP+) applicable from the first January 2014 the Pakistani products could get access to the markets of European Union without duty and on nominal duty, adding this development would augur well for the economy of Pakistan and wellbeing of labours. The government has promised to implement different 27 international conventions regarding labour and human rights under the GSP+ scheme. It is necessary to implement these conventions, otherwise, the GSP+ status could be withdrawn, which would be harmful the national economy.
Fareeda Zaheer, General Secretary of Pakistan National Textile Leather Garment Workers Federation says generally in industrial sector of Pakistan especially textile and garments the international labour standards and decent work conditions seem a distant dream. Majority of the factories are not registered under the Factory Act, while millions of labours devoid of their basic rights of making their unions and electing their collective bargaining agents. The government, as well as employers, seems not serious to improve this sad state of affairs, and hence the production process is sluggish and if the situation continued it would not be possible for Pakistan to get benefits from the GSP+ status.
Khattal Faiz, a peasant leader of said the millions of workers of textile sector from cotton fields to garment factories are facing the worst discrimination. They are devoid of basic rights and privileges under the local and international laws.
Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of the NTUF said under the GSP+ status 23perecent Pakistani products exported to the European Union would be free from any duty, while the remaining 77percent exports would have nominal duties. As a result, Pakistan would get more than US$1billion foreign exchange with 14.5percent rise annually. In the next five years the forex from Pakistani textile products would increase from US$13billion to US$26billion. According to a government estimate more than 1million people would get employment in this sector. However, there could be no improvement in the living standard for workers and giving them the fruits of GSP+ status till the State initiates solid planning in this regard.
Dr Riaz Ahmed Shaikh, Head of Social Sciences SZABIST says under the scheme Pakistan would get special status and facilities when China is rapidly transforming from the textile sector to modern technology, while in Bangladesh there is a crisis-like situation and its export orders are falling due to their industrial and workers’ conditions. These circumstances would give benefit to Pakistan to a certain extent.
To implement the GSP+ it is required that a monitoring committee should be formed comprised of all stakeholders of textile and garment sectors including industrialists, government and genuine representatives of workers to ensure implementation of basic human and labour rights as recognized under the GSP+ scheme so that a real change could be brought in the lives of workers. The European Union and European Parliament should also device mechanisms in consultation with the labour organizations to improve the working conditions and the international brands should be made bound to implement the conventions about international labour rights.