Fishery workers get ‘Employee’ status in Balochistan

By Tahir Ali | Gwadar Pro Jan 13, 2023

QUETTA, Jan 13 (Gwadar Pro) -  The Government of Balochistan on Wednesday declared a fishing vessel as a “Commercial Establishment” and fishing worker/labour as an “employee”, ensuring the social security of the fishermen in the province.

Fishermen leaders, labour rights activists and legal experts have hailed the decision of the provincial government, which ensures the basic rights of fishermen and gives fishing vessels the status of industries.

“In exercise conferred under Balochistan shops & Establishment Act 2021, the Government of Balochistan, Labour & Manpower Department is pleased to declare a fishing vessel a ‘Commercial Establishment’ under Section (2) (f) (vi); and a Fishery worker/labourer, as an ‘Employee’ under Section (2) (h) with immediate effect and until further order,” reads the notification.

Talking to Gwadar Pro, Manan Bacha, a labour affairs lawyer, said that when fishing vessels get the status of “Commercial Establishment”, they become registered commercial enterprises and the employees working in these ships will enjoy benefits like workers in other registered industries.

Manan Bacha said that an ‘employee’ of a commercial establishment is entitled to get a letter of appointment, card, and annual leaves and will get minimum wages fixed by the government.

Khudad Baloch Wajo, the President of Gwadar Mahigeer Etihad (labour union) welcomed the decision of the Government and said it was one of the “longstanding demands of the fishermen”. “This is a major step towards resolving the issue of fishermen,” he told Gwadar Pro via telephone.

Saeed Baloch, Secretary General of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), termed the notification “something really big” for the fishermen of Balochistan. Talking to Gwadar Pro, Mr Baloch said that the fishermen will get their quota in Government housing schemes like the workers of other industries; they can get plots or flats.

According to him, when the notification is applied in full spirit, it will ensure fishermen’s “social security”, and make them eligible to register for old-age pension at Employees’ Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI).

Saeed Baloch also foresees some more benefits in future like Klassi (a fisherman working in a vessel) will be in a position of bargaining regarding wages or salary. “This is a very good beginning for fishermen,” he said.

There are 89,886 fishermen registered with the Department of Fisheries and Coastal Development (DFCD), Balochistan.

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