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Pakistan: Human Rights Watch alleges labour violations in garment industry, manufacturers and government deny claims

Pakistant Textile Factory_ Article re HRW garment report_02.2019_Credit_The Express Tribune

In January 2019, Human Rights Watch released a report alleging "unfair and abusive" labour practices in Pakistan's garment industry. The report was based on interviews with approximately 140 people, including garment workers, government representatives, and labour rights advocates. The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) publicly denied the allegations. PRGMEA claims that Pakistan is in full compliance with international standards and is working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to address any discrepencies with labour conventions. 

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Article
24 February 2019

Pakistan: Garment-makers deny violation of labour laws

Author: The Express Tribune, Pakistan

"Garment-makers deny violation of labour laws", 14 February 2019

The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has said that it is working with several international organisations, including the International Labour Organisation (ILO), to protect rights of garment industry workers.

Briefing media on [13 February], PRGMEA Chairman...highlighted that the association was a member of the International Apparel Federation (The Netherlands), which was the world’s largest apparel forum. He pointed out that the EU’s GSP Plus scheme [Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus] had been extended to Pakistan after full compliance with the 27 United Nations conventions, particularly related to human and labour rights, including eight core labour standards of the ILO...He made it clear that there was no violation of labour laws in Pakistan’s garment industry.

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Report
23 January 2019

Pakistan: Human Rights Watch reveals 'unfair and abusive' labour practices in garment industry

Author: Human Rights Watch

"No Room to Bargain" Unfair and Abusive Labor Practices in Pakistan, 23 January 2019

...There are currently millions of workers... in Pakistan’s garment industry who are victims of exploitation and abuse...

Based on interviews with more than 141 people, including 118 garment workers from 25 factories, union leaders, government representatives, and labor rights advocates, this report finds that Pakistan’s government has failed to apply the lessons on labor rights protection and safety it should have learned... As a result, workers in Pakistan’s garment factories continue to experience labor abuses that go unaddressed...

Lack of accountability for poor working conditions in garment factories is at the center of troubled industrial relations in Pakistan. Violations of workers’ rights are a problem in nearly all these factories and include practices contrary to both Pakistani law and codes of conduct that Western retailers insist, often in production contracts, that their suppliers follow...

Workers, many of them women, told Human Rights Watch that they experience physical as well as verbal abuse, sometimes of a sexual nature, as well as forced overtime, denial of paid maternity leave, medical leave, and failure to pay the statutory minimum wages. Workers also said they faced pressure not to take toilet breaks, and some said they were denied clean drinking water...

Some of the smaller factories sometimes employ children, including as young as 13, to avoid paying minimum wage and overtime. Human Rights Watch spoke to nine children working in garment factories, all of them producing for the domestic market...

Labor rights activists complained of union-busting by many large factories...

...to date, Pakistan’s labor inspection mechanism has been wholly ineffectual, and the subject of numerous corruption allegations...

Read the full report and recommendations, here.

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