What is Unfair Labour Practice by workers in Punjab and what is the punishment under the law against such practice?
Recent survey on the stats of labour across Pakistan show that in the commercial and industrial sector labour workers have increased to 65 million. International Labour Organization (ILO) was established in 1919 for the purpose to set labour standard, develop labour policies and devise programmes for the purpose to promote decent working environment and conditions for labour class without discrimination throughout the globe. Today 187 countries are member to ILO including Pakistan that joined in 1947 in same year it became a separate dominion. Till today, Pakistan had ratified somewhat 34 conventions on the subject.
As a result of becoming a member of ILO and ratifying different labour conventions, Pakistan has remained committed to development and social welfare and has taken steps to ensure a state of industrial development, protection and support of labour force, growth of trade unions etc. to meet the socio-economic conditions.
After the 18th amendment introduced in the Constitution of Islamic republic of Pakistan, 1973, labour is regarded as a provincial subject, which means that it is the responsibility of Provincial Governments. Earlier, both Federal as well as provincial governments could have taken the responsibility to deal with the subject. Several important laws, rules, regulations and polices on subject were re-introduced in Punjab and other provinces of Pakistan with certain changes to regulate the relation between Employer of an establishment and labour workers. Government of Punjab, in 2012 introduced Punjab Industrial Relations Act, 2012, object and purpose of which is to safe guard the interests of not only labour workers but also the employers to ensure the balance. In this regard not only the rights of both labour workers and employers is provided in the Act 2010 but punishment for violation of such rights have also been provided.
Trade Union or Labour Union
Under Article 17 of 1973 Constitution, it is fundamental right of every citizen to form and join a union of his choice. Labour unions or Trade unions are established in different public and private establishments for the purpose to protect labour workers and on their behalf negotiate wages, conditions of employment, work conditions and settlement of dispute with employer. Irrefutably, the Trade Union are important to protect the right and interest of vulnerable segment of society and lowest rung of the ladder. However, it is equally important to keep a check on Trade Unions failing which those could become so powerful that entire mechanism on which the economic growth of country lies could be seriously affected. Considering the need, checks had been introduced from time to time and in Act 2010 legislature defined certain acts as “Unfair Labour Practices on part of workers” which could lead to punishment if performed against Employer.
Unfair labour practices on the part of worker
These are certain legally prohibited actions by workers, members or office-bearers of the Trade Union against the Employer or person acting on his behalf in an industrial establishment. Following are the unfair practices on the part of workman under section 18 of Punjab Industrial Relation Act 2010:
- Illegal Strike
If any worker of the company is compelling the other workers to commence an illegal strike or take part in the illegal strike by use of force, by threat of confinement etc. Such worker will be guilty of unfair labour practice and will be liable to punishment under the law.
If any one or more workers of the establishment are compelling the other workers to slow down the normal output or with concerted effort deteriorate the quality of normal output by use of force or otherwise by threat of confinement etc. Such worker or workers will be guilty of unfair labour practice.
- Attempt to compel employer
If any worker or workers of the establishment compel the employer to accept any demand by use of force, by threat of confinement, black mail etc.
- Attempt to compel person other than employer
Worker or workmen compel the person other than the employer who has authority to represent employer, to accept any demand by use of force, by threat of confinement etc. such worker or workers will be guilty of unfair labour practice.
- Intimidation (Threatening)
Intimidation includes the element of force and if same is employed by any worker or workers for the purpose to force someone not to become member of trade union, or leave the trade union etc, such person will be guilty of unfair labour practice.
Persuasion includes the element of convincing someone against his will. If any worker or workers of the company are convincing or persuading someone not to become member of trade union, or leave the trade union etc, such worker will be guilty of unfair labour practice.
- Inducement (Influence)
Inducement includes the element of offering benefits to someone which are illegal. If any worker of the company is offering illegal benefits to someone not to become member of trade union, or leave the trade union etc, such worker will be guilty of unfair labour practice.
- Carry weapons
Any worker of the company carrying weapons within the premises of the establishment without the permission of competent authority, in this case such worker will be guilty of unfair labour practice.
- Destruction of company’s property
If any worker of the company is compelling the other workers to destroy the company’s property, in this case such worker will be guilty of unfair labour practice.
- Interference in election
Workers under the Act 2010 can remain member of only one Trade union at a time. If any of the trade unions of the company is interfering in the election process of another trade union of the same company by using different means, in this case such trade union will be guilty of unfair labour practices.
- Refuse to bargain
If any of the workers of the company refuses to bargain with the employer for the purpose to settle a dispute between them by way of negotiation, in this case such worker will be guilty of unfair labour practices.
Penalty for Unfair Labour Practice on the part of workman
Punishment for engaging in illegal act of Unfair Labour Practice on the part of workman as provided under the Act 2010 are as follow:
- Penalty for Unfair labour practise
In case of commission of any offence committed by worker or office-bearer of Trade Union, except where offence of blackmailing, harassing or threatening employer directly or his representative is attracted, offender shall be fined upto Rupee 20,000/- but not less than Rupee 5,000/-. Fine shall be in addition to his termination as an employee. Employer shall also if required initiate claim of damages for losses done to business by worker or workers. However, claim of damages can only be proceeded after the worker or workers are convicted of unfair labour practices as a result of order in trial by Labour Court or Court of Magistrate (First Class).
- Penalty of committing offence detailed at Section 18(1)(d)
Commission of offence of blackmailing, harassing or threatening employer or his representative for the purpose to fulfil a demand is attracted, worker or office-bearer of Trade Union shall be liable to fine which may extend to Rs 30,000 but not less than Rupee 10,000/-.
If offender is an office-bearer of trade union, he shall in addition to punishment shall also be ordered to cease the position from Trade Union in case if he is not terminated from service of employment.