ISLAMABAD, May 25 (APP): More than 200 participants from 20 countries were discussing increase of wage levels through social dialogue at the Asian Living Wage Conference (ALWC) being held here from May 25 to 26.

The Government of Pakistan, in close collaboration with the
governments of Netherlands and Germany has organized the conference, a press release issued by the German Embassy here on Wednesday said.

The main objective of the conference was to highlight the need for social dialogue in a tripartite `plus’ setting in order to realise living wages More than 200 guests, including government officials, manufacturers, members of trade associations and trade unions from 20 countries (including the Asian countries Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam)
as well as international buyers and members of supply chain
initiatives from Europe were attending the conference to discuss strategies to improve wage levels.

In his opening remark, Ravindra Samaraweera, Sri Lankan State Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations, stated: “We can have hundreds of legislation and standards, but it will never be enough.

Shared responsibility is a necessity if we want to ensure living
wages. Trade unions play an important role through collective bargaining and social dialogue.”

“Textile and export of textile products is the single most
important contributor to the economies of most Asian countries. This also leads to competition. But we must realize that this competition should not compromise rights of workers,” he added.

Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource
Development Pir Syed Sadaruddin Shah Rashidi reaffirmed Government of Pakistan’s commitment to accord the highest priority to the rights of our workforce.

Mrs Tanja Gonggrijp, Deputy Director for Sustainable Economic Development with the Netherlands Ministry of Affairs, said: “At the European Conference in Berlin, the Netherlands Government called on Western brands to assume their responsibility on living wage.

He called on Asian governments and companies to further close the gap between minimum wages and living wages. Raising minimum wages will be much easier if done together, he added.

This is a struggle we can only win if all stakeholders are
consulted including labour unions and civil society, he added.
German Ambassador Ina Lepel stated: “Living wages that enable people to live in dignity are not arguable. They have to be reached through joint efforts and shared responsibilities.”

As a follow-up meeting to the European Conference on Living Wage, held in Berlin, Germany, in 2013, the ALWC builds upon the debate on living wages in global supply chains:it aims to promote regional cooperation rather than competition between textile producing countries as a joint effort to raise the income level throughout the region’s textile sector.

The ALWC also takes stock of the initiatives that have emerged since 2013. The conference will present and discuss latest research on the gap between country specific minimum wages and living wages as well as best practices with a focus on social dialogue outcome supported by international buyers, the press release added.