What are the Unfair Labour Practices in Pakistan?

As per recent surveys, the number of labor workers in Pakistan's commercial and industrial sector has increased to 65 million. The International Labour Organization (ILO) was established in 1919 with the aim of setting global labor standards, developing labor policies and devising programs to promote decent working conditions for the labor class without discrimination. Today, 187 countries are members of ILO, including Pakistan which joined in 1947. Pakistan has ratified a total of 34 conventions on labor and social welfare. As a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Pakistan is committed to development and social welfare, and has taken steps to improve conditions for workers, including industrial development, protection of the labor force, growth of trade unions, and more.

After the 18th amendment was introduced to the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1973, labor became a provincial subject. This means that it is the responsibility of Provincial Governments to deal with this domain, as opposed to Federal and Provincial Governments both sharing the responsibility as was the case before. With this change, several important laws, rules, regulations and policies on labor were re-introduced in Punjab and other provinces of Pakistan with certain changes to regulate the employer-employee relationship in establishments.

The Government of Punjab introduced the Punjab Industrial Relations Act, 2012, with the goal of protecting the interests of both workers and employers. The act provides rights for both groups and also outlines punishments for Violation of those rights.


The right of every citizen to form and join a union of his or her choice is guaranteed under Article 17 of the 1973 Constitution. Labour unions or trade unions are established in different public and private establishments for the purpose of protecting labour workers and negotiating on their behalf for wages, employment conditions, work conditions and dispute resolution with employers. Irrefutably, trade unions are important to protect the rights and interests of the most vulnerable segment of society - the lowest rung of the ladder. However, it is just as important to monitor Trade Unions to prevent them from becoming too powerful and disrupting the country's economic growth. To do this, checks are put in place from time to time and in 2010, the legislature defined certain acts as "Unfair Labour Practices" for workers. If these practices are carried out against an employer, the worker may be punished.


There are certain illegal actions that workers, members, or office-bearers of a trade union can take against an employer or person acting on their behalf in an industrial establishment. The following are examples of unfair practices on the part of workers under section 18 of the Punjab Industrial Relations Act 2010:


If any employee of the company forces other employees to start an illegal strike or take part in an illegal strike through the use of violence, confinement, or other means, that employee will be guilty of unfair labor practices and subject to punishment under the law.

GO-SLOW If any of the workers of the establishment are trying to force the other workers to slow down production or lower the quality of their work, they will be guilty of unfair labor practices.


If any employee or employees of the company attempt to make the employer accept any demands through the use of force, confinement, or blackmail, etc., ATTEMPT TO COMPEL PERSON OTHER THAN EMPLOYER Any worker or group of workers who uses force or threatens confinement in order to make someone other than their employer accept their demands will be guilty of unfair labor practices.

INTIMIDATION (THREATENING) Intimidation at work includes the element of force. If any employee or group of employees employs force in order to prevent someone from joining a trade union or leaving a trade union, that person will be guilty of an unfair labor practice.


Persuasion is the act of convincing someone to do something that they may not be initially inclined to do. If any worker or workers of the company attempt to convincing or persuade someone not to become member of trade union, or leave the trade union, etc., such worker will be guilty of unfair labor practice.


Inducement includes offering illegal benefits to someone in order to persuade them to join or leave a trade union. If any employee of the company offers such benefits, they will be guilty of unfair labor practices.

CARRY WEAPONS Any employee caught carrying weapons within company premises without prior permission from a figure of authority will be guilty of unfair labor practice.


Any employee who persuades other employees to damage or destroy company property will be guilty of unfair labor practices.


Workers under the Act 2010 can only remain members of one trade union at a time. If any trade unions of the company are interfering in the election process of another trade union of the same company by using different means, such trade unions will be guilty of unfair labor practices.


If any of the employees of the company refuse to negotiate with the employer to settle a dispute, they will be guilty of unfair labor practices.

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If a workman engages in illegal Unfair Labour Practice, they will be subject to the following punishment under the Act 2010:

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If any worker or office-bearer of a Trade Union commits an offence, except in the case of blackmailing, harassing, or threatening an employer directly or his representative, they shall be fined up to Rupee 20,000/- but not less than Rupee 5,000/-. The fine shall be in addition to their termination as an employee. The employer shall also initiate a claim for damages for losses done to the business by the worker or workers if required. Workers can only claim damages after they are convicted of unfair labor practices as a result of an order in trial by the Labour Court or Court of Magistrate (First Class).


The commission of an offence of blackmailing, harassing or threatening an employer or his representative for the purpose of fulfilling a demand is punishable by a fine of up to Rs 30,000. If the offender is an office-bearer of a trade union, he shall in addition to the punishment be ordered to cease his position from the Trade Union if he is not terminated from his employment.

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