KP railway staff placed under labour dept
PESHAWAR, Jan 16: The Pakistan Railways employees working on railway lines and stations and in factories of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will now fall under the legal jurisdiction of the provincial labour department.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly had repealed on Tuesday the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, a federal law, and enacted the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Payment of Wages Act, 2012, bringing the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-based railway workers under the provincial labour department’s domain.
The new Act will cover ‘the payment of wages to persons employed (otherwise than in a factory) by the railway administration,’ and ‘persons employed in the factories, industrial establishments or commercial establishments under the control of the Federal government or the Provincial government, as the case may be, situated in the territorial jurisdiction of the province.’The provincial assembly repealed the old federal act (to the extent of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) by using the powers vested in it under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. It was a legal obligation, which the provincial government has fulfilled, according to legal circles.
The new law enacted on Tuesday last was provided passage after the provincial assembly’s Standing Committee No 2 on Law Reforms and Control on Subordinate Legislation tabled its findings in the House and informed it that the provincial legislature
was competent to repeal the federal law in accordance with the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
Israrullah Khan Gandapur, member of the provincial assembly, who is also a member of the committee, told Dawn on Wednesday that the new law would help remove parallel legislations in the province as according to the 18th Amendment, the law relating to the payment of wages had been devolved to the provinces.
The staff of Pakistan Railways, according to the standing committee’s report, falls under two categories.
Those working in the administration or offices their wages will continue to be covered under the Civil Servants Act, 1973, while the ones working on ‘the lines’ and in factories previously covered under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, will be covered under the newly enacted provincial law.
“They needed to be extended the provincial labour laws to fulfill the province’s legal obligations in line with the 18th Constitutional Amendment,” said the MPA, adding that the labour department pressed for the enactment to be able to make seven new labour laws currently in the pipeline.
The provincial assembly referred the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Payment of Wages Bill, 2012 on December 18, last after the draft legislation was tabled before the House for enactment.
However, the matter was referred to the standing committee to examine whether the provincial assembly was empowered to legislate about a department (railways) that has not been devolved to the province and determine that the provincial assembly was legally competent to repeal a federal law to the extent of its own jurisdiction (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s).
“Article 270 AA (6) and Article 268 (1) empower the provincial assemblies to either adopt certain laws in force or replace such laws, where required, with new enactments,” said Mr Gandapur referring to the standing committee’s report.
A source said the standing committee in its meeting could not hold a threadbare discussion on talking about or finding out the ‘benefits’ of the new law.
“In all fairness, the committee members trusted the director labour, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who requested the House committee
to clear the draft bill and request the assembly for its immediate enactment,” said Mr Gandapur, when asked about the benefit of the new law.
He said it was ‘a public interest’ legislation, which had been necessitated to pave the way for the labour department to clear the backlog, making new laws.
According to a relevant source, the labour department pushed the matter hard because it thought that delay would keep the matter pending for many months to come.
The incumbent assembly, said a source, was about to complete its constitutional term in a couple of months time following which it could not have been taken up again until the coming into being of the next provincial legislature.