Contract Worker Remain As Entitled Workman for Share in Companies Profit (wppf) Despite High Court Judgements

Author:Dr. Perwez Shafi

Number of employers are still reluctant to declare and share in Companies Profit (Workers' Participation) on the excuse that the two High Courts have given judgments declaring labour law amendments passed through Finance Acts during the General Musharraf era were illegal way of passing an amendment hence amendments per se becomes void.

Most knows the problem long ago. Constitution delineates the procedure for law making. All new bills and/or amendments can only becomes a law if it goes through both houses -- National Assembly and Senate -- and then assented by the President. The only exception is the Finance Bill which bypasses the Senate and after passed in the NA can be signed by the President. During Musharraf era all kinds of amendments in laws -- criminal laws, customs laws, environmental laws, labour laws etc. etc.-- were incorporated in the Finance Bill in the hope that when the elephant (Finance Bill) will be passed its tail (number of amendments in various laws) will also pass without much discussion and thus saving time.

While these amendments on merit would deserved to be passed anyway after discussion and debate but the vehicle (Finance Bill) used was incorrect and unconstitutional. Thus, when the High Courts declared the labour law amendments as part of the Finance Acts as illegal and void they were not declaring the labour law amendments per se as illegal and void rather constitutional procedure used was not correct.

One can point out number of weakness' in the Sindh High Court judgment which originally started unnecessary chaos and confusion:

1. that the judgment was almost impractical because all transactions under it has been closed long ago and could not be reversed,

2. High Courts jurisdiction is limited to their respective provinces although Courts in other provinces could adopt it,

3. while hearing were going on the affected parties -- CBA, federations and workers -- were not called to hear their position,

4. some CBAs and federations and some lawyers have either challenged the HC judgments in the Supreme Court or are in a process of doing so,

5. High Courts may declare any law ultra vires of the Constitution but it is the responsibility of the Parliament to amend it or make a new one.

But here the argument presented is not on the basis of weakness' of the High Court judgments rather it will be argued that even if the judgments are adopted and implemented faithfully a contract worker would still be included in the definition of 'worker' [section 2(f)] hence entitled to share in the companies profits. Hence those employers who are holding on distributing and sharing companies profit with their workers and not implementing the statute Companies Profit (Workers Participation) Fund, 1968 are more at risk in future.

Even if the High Court judgments are taken into account and assumed omission of amendment from the definition of "workmen" hence thinking that contract worker is ousted from the...

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