Prior to the establishment of Karachi Dock Labour Board, employment of dock workers at the Karachi Port was traditionally of a casual nature, based on the principle of NO work NO pay. The stevedoring companies at the Karachi port used to engage casual labour, for work at wharves and on the ships through their permanent employees (Tindals and Serangs). The dock workers used to assemble twice daily on the road-side when they were hired by the stevedores for daily work of loading/unloading the ships. Those required for work were engaged and hired, and the others went home without any job, work or reward. The Tindals and Serangs of the stevedoring companies had full power of hire and fire and employment of a dock worker was entirely at their discretion. The stevedoring companies had NO direct concern with the workers and they took NO interest in their welfare. The Dock Workers were not happy with this somewhat inhuman system and agitated for introduction of a Scheme for Registration of dock workers similar to the schemes in vogue at the ports of other countries.
Consequent upon the promulgation of Industrial Relations Ordinance, 1969, and general awakening amongst the dock workers, the question of regulating the employment of dock workers was revived in the Tripartite Labour Conference held at Islamabad in 1970. The unrest amongst the dock workers generated by the above demand resulted in lack of interest and go-slow tactics which caused an unprecedented congestion of ships at the Karachi Port. The Karmahom Conference imposed 20% shipping surcharge on Pakistan and there was a threat that other Conferences may follow suit.
Responding to the dock workers' demand and to the port situation, the Government set up a Committee in January, 1972 to verify and register them for the purpose of regulation of their employment. Rotational system was introduced on 10th August, 1972. Finally the matter was considered at a high level meeting presided over by the Federal Political Affairs and Commerce Minister held in November 1972 and an Ad-hoc Dock Labour Board was setup to supervise the rotational system of employment and to prepare a draft scheme for regulation of employment of dock workers. The Karachi Dock Workers (Regulation of Employment) Scheme was promulgated through an Ordinance No. XXVIII of 1973 which was eventually passed as an Act No. IX OF 1974 on 1st March, 1974.