Speakers stress provision of rights to home-based workers

KARACHI - Representatives of trade unions, government officials, employers and civil society activists on Thursday demanded the government to provide all labour and constitutional rights to home-based workers.

Speaking at a one-day provincial conference on Home Based Workers (HBWs) on ‘Finalisation of the Implementation of Strategy for HBWs in Sindh,’, jointly organised by HomeNet Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Oxfam at PILER Centre here on Thursday, they demanded the government to rectify the Convention C177 (Home  Work Convention, 1996).

The conference, held to commemorate International Women's Day, was attended by a number of home-based workers from different areas of Sindh.

Justice (r) Majida Razvi, Chairperson, Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC); Umm-e-Laila Azhar of HomeNet Pakistan; Habibuddin Junaidi, Convener, Sindh  Labour Solidarity Committee; Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER; Mahnaz Rahman, Director, Aurat Foundation; Zehra Goawala, Researcher; Majyd Aziz, President of Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP); Ashraf Naqvi, Joint Director of Labour and Human Resource Department of government of Sindh, Dr Aly  Ercelawn, a senior economist, Zulfiqar Shah, Joint Director of PILER, Irfana Jabbar and Rehana Yasmeen, representatives of home based workers and others  spoke on the occasion.

The speakers pointed out that estimated 12 million poor home-based women workers were the least paid and most exploited in the value chain of production processes.

They demanded that all home-based workers be provided the fundamental right to form unions.

They noted that such workers were invisible because they worked at home and were unorganised due to nature of their work.

Home-based workers of Sindh welcome Sindh Chief Minster’s initiative to launch the first-ever policy for them in Asia.

It is a step forward; one that   recognises the separate identity of home- based workers, read the policy recommendations presented on the occasion. The Government of Sindh was asked to develop a comprehensive action plan for the implementation of the policy.

The provincial government was also asked to ensure participation of HBWs and allocate adequate budget for them, including for the upgradation of their homes of HBWs, which are also their work place; skill development and appropriate literacy programmes, including financial literacy; social protection, including occupational health and safety; access to credit and economic resources.

The speakers also demanded the issuance of social protection cards for the home-based women.

It was also stressed that in order to create awareness about occupational safety and health and provisions of services at their doorstep, special sessions be held, and that the right to collective bargaining must be ensured.

The speakers underlined the need that representation of workers from the informal sector be ensured in the local government ancillary bodies, giving 33  percent representation to women, and workers from informal sector must be involved in the urban and town planning bodies, committees of local, provincial and  urban planning cells/units.

They underlined the need that rights based organisations should monitor and make sure implementation of all international conventions, especially to which Pakistan is a signatory, under GSP-Plus scheme by European Union.



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