LABOUR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKING CONDITION IN COAL MINING OF PAKISTAN
By: Noor Mohammad
President of Pakistan Mine Workers Federation (Reg)
Productivity and labour management are directly proportional. Batter the labour and management relations, more the productivity. In Pakistan, Coal Mining is as yet in primate stages, in spite of the fact that coal mining is being done in Pakistan coal fields for the last more than hundred years. Due to varied factors and difficult mining conditions. It could not be mechanized; therefore Pakistan Coal mining industry is highly labour intensive. With the discovery of large field in Sind (Thar coal Field) it is hoped that modern techniques will be applied in Pakistan but it may take. Until then it has to depend on labour.
It is admitted fact that, Pakistan has a law rate of literacy; there labour force in Pakistan is generally illiterate. Various force in fluencies their productivity.
- Necessity of work
- Social environment.
Necessity of job is of course the main factor. New generation of coal miners usually do not take to work under hard and difficult conditions in coal mining “ labour force for coal mining belong to North Western province of Pakistan whereas coal mining fields are in Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab” they want to have jobs on surface. Mines have gone deeper. In Balochistan a few of the mines are more than 1300 meters deep and on step gradients of 45 degree and above. There are no man-riding arrangements for traveling in the mines. How can one expert some one to travel 1300 meters on 45 degrees and climb back after hard work of local mining, naturally mine workers will adopt will adopt illegal way to revel in the mines which has increased the accident rate due to man-riding recent years.
Engineers may suggest some means for safe traveling on such gradients but then it becomes highly capital intensive and coal mining becomes uneconomical. No investor would like to produce coal at loss; they would prefer to close their miners, thus creating job problems. So necessity of job makes them work under unsafe conditions.
Social environment is another related factor Labour force in Pakistan coal industry belongs to North Western Province whereas coal mines are in rest of the three provinces. Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab. With the awareness through communication, they like to settle on job with their families. They like their children to study. With literacy, social standers will increase and economical need will definitely increase which has to be related with productivity. It is in the interest of the employer to provide better social environment or labour force. Earlier coal mining labour was highly migratory. Since last 15 years it is setting down in areas where better social environments are provided.
Wherever here is an accident in coal mines, colleague workers and even the relatives if injured or would decease would say that his time was over and Allah wanted him back, “so there it is”. It is due to incomplete and poor religious beliefs. Only knowledge can increase their awareness. They take under risks believing that accident can only occur if God wants so. They do not think God has given them knowledge one can burn his hands if he touches fire.
Man’s primary motivation is economic. However man has also feeling or emotions which do not fit rational. His irrational feelings or emotions have to be neutralized by the management so they do not interfere with the rational calculation of self-interest. Man can be motivated differently, at different times and under different circumstances. Reward for god performance is more opportunity for self-protection. Workers ultimate satisfaction and effectiveness on the organization depend only in part on the motive of man’s motivation. A highly skills but poorly motivated workers can be effective as unskilled highly motivated workers. Over the years, enforcement 0 various laws to facilitate the mining works is creating another problem. Employers converting labour employment system to contractual employment. A group leader is form among the worker is made a contractor on labour and only he becomes responsible to the management. Workers have to work under him through a complex system of advance granted to them by the contractor. Workers send the advance money to their families or pay to their last contractor to start work with the new contractor. Infect, contractor becomes his employer, but he does not take care of any of the obligation of law i.e. old age benefits, social securities, leaves, bonus, participation in profile, gratuity etc. If at all some of better contractors pay a few of these benefits to their works, they are not paid as per law but only to a part just as eye-wash. They would just say such and such workers left his job for a day in three months so they are not obliged to pay to him any benefits. Although contractors do get these benefits for worker from the owners or employers. Employers are diverting to the contractual system to avoid legalities and dealing with various laws enforcing agencies maintenance of various records and that. Contractors bound the workers advance system and then avoid their legal obligations.
To manage our labour force highly skilled managers are required. Every one has his own theory of motivation or his own ideas of what encourage people to work or to work with more efficiency. In actual practice middle management deals with the workers and are responsible for enforcing the management orders for the productivity and safety. With the establishment supervisor’s training institute in Katas in Punjab, it is hoped that trained and skilled supervision will be available for the mining industry of Pakistan.
Problems related to safety in the coal industry of Pakistan are acute. Much has been done in this regard by the government of Pakistan as well as ILO. Training centers have been establishment to train middle management, skilled workers etc. Safety and rescue station have been established in coal fields. Every coal mine accident involves suffering for the victims as well as family along with the material damage/ loss on production time, and other related losses. Family of the victim suffers a set-back in its standard of living. Over the years, a lot of studies have been done on the causes of accident. One major factor in this regard is the awareness of labour they should become more safety conscious. Workers are actual suffers. If they are ticked to the fact that their children and families may suffer of poverty after their death or disability to work, they will become more safety minded. How can be done? Trade unions representatives have done much to propagate these facts but still there is not a lot to be done. If the workers who may be effected by the accident and who is the danger, he is aware of his safety, he will immediately leave dangerous place and ask for the on working in dangerous condition and guidance. If he is not safety conscious he will carry on working in dangerous condition and unaware of the consequences of accident. Regulations and laws cannot prevent men from making mistakes, taking undue risks. Only supervision cannot enforce respect for safety.
Education is the platform for training and retraining or an adaptable workforce. In planning for the future of the industry, therefore attention should be paid by all concerned to the education of mine workers and their children the potential mineworkers of tomorrow. Better training and skill upgrading contribute to safer, better and ultimately more productive workplaces.
Standards for training in the coal mining industry should be established, keeping in view special working conditions in each Coal field. The measures should be taken by the competent authority, where possible with the collaboration of the employers, and workers representatives concerned, and supported by legislation where appropriate.
Awareness to safety can be created by appropriate teaching strong propaganda through videos, posters and lectures. There is no training system in Pakistan for workers who come for work in this highly dangerous profession. Training is giving only job by the elders of a new worker. They do not make them safety minded they just tell them how to produce coal.
There should be can apprenticeship center in very colliery or at least in every group of collieries or mining field. These centers should be established either at or near the pit-head, or at some other appropriate places, and should reproduce the conditions work underground. The representatives of the employers and of the colliery personnel, or of the workers organization according to the circumstances, should collaborate in the organization and operation of the apprenticeship centers.
During the whole period of training, trainees should receive the wages corresponding to their age and work under conditions of apprenticeship laid down in collective arrangement or by public authority. All the provisions of such collective agreements should apply to them save share otherwise stipulated.
In the light of the above, it is suggested:-
- That contractual labour force should be regulated through law. The government of Pakistan should make Low so as to Register Coal Mining Contractors and make them liable to provide safety and pay various benefits to Mineworkers. Only Registered Contractors should work in Coal Mining Industry.
- Enforcement of Law and Safety of Mines should be brought under ONE DEPARTMENT. Actually employers are diverting to Contract System because of being responsible for Law Enforcing Department.
- Appropriate legislation should be established to ensure suitable and effective protection for coal mine workers with respect to work that is arduous, dangerous and harmful to health, and necessary steps should be taken to combat all forms of pollution connected with the coal industry.
- The Government should be take appropriate measures to set definite objectives designed to reduce the numbers of coal mine accidents.
- The Mines Act, 1923, the coal Mine regulation, 1926, the metal ferrous Mines rules 1952, and the other rules and regulations should be amended. There is still a need for appropriate legislation in this respect, and for the implementation of such legislation, Such Legislation should aim at minimizing hazards and anticipating problems. This must include the control and recording of all mining activities. Indrawingup such legislation there should be tripartite consultation and there should full co-operation between the Government, employers, workers in its implementation. Such legislation should make adequate provision for the training of mine workers in safety and health matters. In formulating this legislation. All parties should recognize that there is no inherent conflict between safety and health legislation and a level of productivity.
- Trade union Representatives can help in teaching/ Train Mine workers to make them safety minded but they do not have sufficient ILO and government of Pakistan may help in this matter. The training Institutes should be established in every province of Pakistan including in every Mining sector, to train Mine workers before starting works as Coal Miner. A lot of propaganda campaign is necessary with videos and posters and booklets to raise the awareness to safety of the workers.
- Suggestion is hereby consider necessary to from a Committee of Representatives of ILO, Government concerned, Employers, and followed for which a Report be made periodically by the committee in respect of mine safety.
8. It is further suggested that workers, Supervisory & Managerial staff should be given job security, for which Laws and Regulations should be constituted, So that they may work to the entire satisfaction with full vigor.
- It is very necessary that in the Inquiry, case of accident etc, the Representative of the Trade union concerned should be present in the inquiry proceeding, have equal status to that of inquiry officer, so that the Labour Force may not be deprived of their due rights, further more all inquiry reports conducted by the court of inquiry in past should be published for general public and concerned parties
- It is also suggested that the Trade Union Representatives may be giving opportunity for necessary training abroad.