Stakeholders agree to fix minimum wages for glass bangle workers

Karachi/ Hyderabad: Stakeholders have agreed that there should be minimum wages for the home-based workers of glass bangle industry of Hyderabad, majority of them are home-based workers.

The consensus was reached in a “Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting on Issues of Glass Bangle Industry” arranged by Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) at a local hotel. Joint Director Labour Sindh Gulfam Nabi Memon, Secretary Minimum Wages Board Shaheen Nisar Mangi, General Secretary All Hyderabad Choori Welding Workers Association Mohammad Asim, representative of glass bangle industry Mahtab Ahmed, National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor, General Secretary of HBWWF Zahra Khan and a large number of workers were present.

HBWWF leader Zahra Khan said this consultative meeting was aimed at the discuss the issues related to minimum wages of glass bangle workers of Hyderabad and get input of workers, contractors, industrialists and government regarding the issue of fixing minimum wages for these glass bangle workers, majority of them of home based women workers who are presently getting very low wages. She said home based women workers use their homes as workplace and they also pay for utility bills like electricity, gas and water of these informal workplaces and their children and whole families also work, but still they do not get proper wages.

General Secretary All Hyderabad Choori Welding Workers Association Mohammad Asim said making glass bangles in a tough and risky job. These workers face grave health problems due to working with chemicals and in dangerous conditions. He said the owners of glass bangle industry should resolve the issues of these workers regarding low wages and there should be fixed minimum wages for their labours like the labours of other sectors.

Industry representatives Mahtab Ahmed said they pay handsomely to the contractors who are supposed to pay reasonable wages to the home-based workers after realizing their commission. He said if the contractors are not paying properly to the workers it is not the fault of industrialists. He said they are ready to accept fixed minimum wages for the bangle workers if calculated reasonably and with consensus. He said there are about 28 big and small glass bangle industries in Hyderabad and thousands of labours work for them. He said majority of these workers get work through contractors.

Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary NTUF said fixing minimum wages is a tripartite process, in which the representatives of employees, employers and government sit together and fix wages with a complete consensus after detailed consultations. He said the home based workers are playing a crucial role in economy, but in return they are not even provided basic facilities of life. He said these workers need to be treated as workers in the eye of law. He said a draft in this regard has already been presented to the Sindh chief minister. He said they are waiting that the provincial cabinet would soon announce a home based labour policy and later the Sindh assembly would enact a law in this regard.

Giving the example of football industry home-based workers of Sialkot, he said the workers get too little wages for their work and the industrialists get huge profits. He said Pakistan had got GSP+ status by the European Union and in return it has to improve human and workers’ rights in the country.

He said in Sindh there are more than 6million home-based workers, 80percent of them are women. He said these workers are too vulnerable and they brave immense exploitation. He said it needs that the genuine issues of these home-based workers should be resolved on priority.

Joint Director Labour Sindh Gulfam Nabi Memon said the Sindh government is taking steps to resolve the problems of workers including home-based workers. He said they are here to play a role of bridge between the employers and employees. He stressed the need to hold detailed consultation to fix minimum wages for the glass bangle workers

Secretary Minimum Wages Board Shaheen Nisar Mangi presented a list of proposed minimum wages for different categories of home-based workers of glass bangle industry of Hyderabad.

The meeting set up a committee comprising representatives of workers, employers and government officials to re-draft the minimum wages after detailed consultation of all stakeholders within two weeks so that the minimum wages could be fixed for the workers of this neglected sector.