Pakistan has a labour force of 65.5 million workers of which only 10.63 million are engaged in the formal sector. For these 10.63 million formal sector workers, Pakistan has nearly 517 labour inspectors which translate to one inspector for more than 20,560 workers in the so-called formal sector. If the overall labour force is taken into account, the number of workers per labour inspector jumps to 127,000 workers.
In line with Labour Inspection Convention 81, ratified by Pakistan in 1953, the most important function of the labour inspectors is to secure the enforcement of applicable labour legislation and guide employers and workers concerning the most effective means of complying with the law.
Considering their meagre number, lack of financial resources as well as sporadic bans on labour inspection (2003-10 in Punjab and once again in 2019 as part of industrial policy), it is not possible for these labour inspectors to visit all workplaces, inspect working conditions and fulfil their fundamental responsibilities of law enforcement as well as guidance.
The current situation requires an innovative and impartial system which allows individuals (witnesses and victims) to submit labour law compliance related data without endangering their privacy. It should allow safe, risk-free, anonymous, and an effective mechanism for reporting labour rights abuses at the workplace. At the same time, the system should provide information services both to the workers and employers to ensure compliance with the applicable labour legislation.
The Whistlers does this magic and allows reporting of labour rights violation information from individual witnesses and victims. The Whistlers brings the public (witnesses and victims) and labour department closer through online anonymous but verified reporting of rights violations. Instead of depending on the labour departments to provide their administrative labour inspection data, the Whistlers allows estimating the scope of various labour rights abuses without even compromising the anonymity of those submitting this information. Once data is submitted by the users (witnesses or victims) and is verified by the Centre for Labour Research team, it is shown on the Google map indicating the particular labour rights violation.
Centre for Labour Research has created online labour rights violation submission form for the following six issues:
- Sexual Harassment
- Employment Discrimination
- Child Labour / Bonded Labour
- Trade Union Rights (Freedom of Association)
- Workplace/Occupational Accidents
- Working Conditions
Who are the Whistlers? They are all those individuals (witnesses and victims) who want to raise their voice about labour rights violations in the country. The work aims to foster civic engagement among the populace especially youth. It allows everyone to blow the whistle about workplace related malpractices anywhere in the country.
As said quite aptly by Maya Angelou, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you”. So, do come forward and register your grievance by breaking the silence on various labour rights abuses you have either endured yourself or witnessed.