Call for immediate approval of homebased workers’ policy

Karachi: Central General Secretary Home Based Women Workers Federation HBWWF Zehra Khan on Monday demanded of the provincial government for immediate approval of the policy of Sindh cabinet about the homebased workers and implementation on ILO Home Work Convention C177.

She expressed these views while addressing a press conference on the occasion of third international day of homebased workers at Karachi Press Club KPC. Central Vice-President HBWWF Shahla Rizwan, Saira Feroz, Kausar Parveen, Amber Asif, Samina, Kiran, Khadija, Nuzhat Shireen and Central Deputy General Secretary National Trade Union Federation NTUF Nasir Mansoor were also present.

Zehra Khan said on the third anniversary of homebased workers day in South Asia being observed on Monday the plights of workers in Pakistan are yet to be addressed. She said on October 20, 2000 the representatives of governments, United Nations Organization UNO related to women and children, and social and labour leader had jointly approved the Kathmandu Declaration for the right of homebased workers in a conference convened by UN Women in Nepal, while on October 20 2011 was observed as first Homebased Workers Day of South Asia.

Zehra Khan said in this declaration it was recommended that every country of South Asia Would formulate national policies for the rights of 50.5m homebased workers in the region and improved their lot. She said these polices would give them rights of forming trade unions, social security, health and safety, minimum wages, maternity –related facilities, vocational training, education and literacy, entry of their particulars in government data and other labour related rights.

She informed that number of homebased workers in Pakistan is more than 12.5m and growing rapidly, due to worsening global recession and over growing crises of capitalism. She said trend of using women and children as cheap labour to maximize profits and dodge labour law is on the rise. She said 80 percent homebased workers are women in Pakistan who work along with their children their children 12 to 16 hours a day and earn less than Rs 6000 rupees per month.

She said these homebased workers are present in glass bangle, footwear, embroidery, garments, handicrafts, sports goods, surgical instruments, toys, fisheries and electronics industries and sorting, cleaning, packing and packaging of different products. She said these workers are not covered in the definition of ‘worker’ in labour laws and therefore deprived of all legal privileges.

She said federation in collaboration with other organizations working for homebased workers and representatives of employers and government has formed a final draft of policy on homebased workers and presented it to the Sindh cabinet for approval in August 2013. She said federation and other stakeholders are also working on the draft of a bill to give social security for workers, which would be tabled in the Sindh assembly soon.

She informed that due to this continuous struggle of HBWWF, the Sindh labour department in collaboration with UN Women has started to register 10000 home based women workers related to the glass bangle industry of Hyderabad. She said these women would undergo medical checkup following their treatment in different organizations.

The speakers demanded that the policy presented to the Sindh cabinet should be approved immediately and government of Pakistan should rectify the ILO Home Work Convention C177, and start lawmaking in all provinces in its light. They said the Sindh assembly in March 2013 took a historic step to accept the millions of workers of agriculture and fisheries sectors as workers under the Sindh Industrial Relations Act SIRA2013 Sindh Industrial Relation Act 2013.

They further demanded to amend the SIRA and accept the homebased workers legally as workers, so that like other workers the millions of homebased workers could also play their due role in bettering the economy of Sindh. They demanded for special steps should be taken to end growing incidents of sexual violence and harassment of women.

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