ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani Friday directed the ministry of labour and manpower to prioritise the formulation of a comprehensive labour policy that must envisage appropriately designed strategies to address the essential elements of development, welfare, protection and export of labour. The PM said this during a briefing held at the ministry of labour and manpower on the performance and achievements of the ministry. Gilani said that a clear vision and operational plan for exploiting human resource potential in the coming years must be developed and implemented through the labour policy. Our top priority must be to build human resource potential of our workforce, as uneducated, unskilled and non-productive labour forces are a liability rather than an asset, the Prime Minister said. The ministry should focus on education and skill development of labour force as it was necessary both for meeting domestic labour market demand as well as for enhancing labour export earnings in a knowledge-based global economy, he added. Highlighting the reasons for low labour development, the Prime Minister said that high population growth combined with weak capacity of the economy to absorb growing labour force, had created a situation of labour over-supply, unemployment and underemployment. He said that presently, countrys population was estimated at 170 millions, of which, 49 millions comprised labour force. He said almost half of the labour force was engaged in agriculture and the rest in industry and services sectors and only 10 per cent labour force was estimated to be skilled. The engagement of non-skilled labour force was a major reason for low economic productivity, production inefficiencies as well as the lack of innovation and competitiveness of Pakistani products in international markets, he said. Emphasising the need for labour export, the Prime Minister said that efforts must be made for enhancing the export of labour by exploring new markets. He said the growing populations in industrialised economies have created a demand for export of skilled labour. He emphasised that implementation of labour laws and their compliance by institutions and industry must be ensured. Referring to the anti-labour laws, he said that his government was committed to abolish these laws The PM said that since the success in achieving better opportunities and prospects for labour force depended on the working of labour attaches and community welfare attaches in various countries abroad, therefore, selection of most competent and eligible officers against such posts must be ensured and they must assigned targets. Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Minister for Labour and Manpower Syed Khursheed Shah said that the ministry was implementing policies as enshrined in the manifesto of Pakistan Peoples Party for the welfare of labour in Pakistan. In the presentation, the Prime Minister was informed that an amount of Rs 70 billion was allocated for welfare of workers as grants, construction of housing colonies, hospitals and schools. The ministry would also send additional 50,000 workers abroad during this year. A project costing 5 million pounds in collaboration with ILO and EC to eliminate child labour in two districts of Pakistan and formation of provincial child labour units is being undertaken. The ministry has prepared a plan for the welfare of labour community by extending medical care to the retired workers, 34,000 additional workers to be registered for old-age pension and up-gradation of existing 35 secondary schools to inter college level. Similarly plan is prepared for capacity building of TEVT institutions and labour market analysis unit funded by European commission (EC) and ILO, developing language training courses for overseas workers and training according to demands of labour receiving countries. The Prime Minister was apprised that the minimum wage of unskilled workers was increased from Rs 4,600 to Rs 6,000 per month while the minimum pension of the workers increased from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per month. Similarly the amount of marriage grant from workers welfare fund had been increased from Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000 and the marriage grants to female workers and daughters of workers would now be provided to all eligible workers. Also the amount of death grant has been increased from Rs 200,000 to Rs 300,000 and the maximum share of workers profit from profit of the company raised from Rs 18,400 to Rs 24,000 per worker per year. He was informed that contract workers had now been made eligible for share in the companys profit. The Prime Minister was informed that the minimum and maximum amount of scholarship was increased from Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,850 to Rs 3,000 per month, respectively. He was further informed that all expenses of workers children admitted in any public/private universities, medical colleges, public schools run by federal/provincial governments paid by the fund. The social security scheme extended to the workers employed on wages up to Rs 10,000 per month and the benefits/facilities available under the workers welfare fund (WWF) have been extended to the workers of commercial and service sectors. The Prime Minister was apprised that complaint cell with designated officer had been established in the ministry to attend to workers complaints. Regarding bonded labour the Prime Minister was informed that a fund of Rs 114 million was established for rehabilitation and welfare of bonded labour. Free legal aid services units are providing assistance to bonded labourers in Punjab and NWFP at the cost of Rs 6,728 million and so far direct relief had been extended to 346 bonded labourers across the country. He was informed that a housing colony of 75 houses at a cost of Rs 9.579 million in district Dadu had been completed and handed over to freed bonded labour. The Prime Minister was briefed that 122 new licenses were issued to overseas employment promoters to increase manpower export and the ministry had signed additional protocol with State of Qatar for export of manpower. He was informed that an MOU had been signed with M/s Bauer Kompressorn Middle East, UAE, and national training bureau for skill up-gradation of skilled workers and export of manpower to UAE. Opportunity for the export of 2,000 workers to Qatar and Bahrain is under process. Regarding the legal initiatives the Prime Minister was briefed that Chief Executive Order No VI had been repealed to restore unions in PIA. He was informed that IRO 2002 had been repealed and Industrial Relations Act 2008 promulgated to restore union activities in the country. The Prime Minister was informed that the facility of pension was extended to the workers of small establishments having five employees only and provision are made for full wages to the workers during suspension period. He was also informed about the draft bills on employment and service conditions and occupational safety and health had been prepared and placed before the Pakistan Tripartite Labour Conference on 16th February 2009 for consultation along with the IRA 2008. The Prime Minister also announced the construction of colony for labour at Bahawalpur with all civic amenities including hospital, school and market. The Prime Minister appreciated the achievements of ministry of labour and manpower in the last 15 months during the tenure of the present government.