Govt urged to protect home-based workers’ rights

KARACHI - The home-based workers are playing a crucial role in the economy and it is necessary that their rights be accepted for the progress of the country. On home-based workers day, we demand the Sindh government that it should legislate for their rights and get them registered with social security and pension funds like other workers.”

This was said by Zehra Khan, general secretary of the Home Based Women Workers Federation, as she spoke to a rally at Karachi Press Club (KPC) organized in accordance with the day on Friday. A large number of workers, mostly home-based women workers, participated in the rally in a bid to mobilize for their rights campaign.

Among the other speakers at the rally were National Trade Union Federation president Rafiq Baloch, its deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor, United HB Workers Union president Zahida Mukhtiyar, its general secretary Saira Feroz, HBWWF Sindh information secretary Shabnam, MazdoorKisan Party leader Afzal Shah Khamosh, Yousuf, progressive writer Zubairur Rahman, Fiction house Zahoor Ahmed Khan and Sindh Agriculture General Workers Union (CBA) leader Mushtaq Ali Shan.

The speakers said that on the same day seven years ago, a declaration was passed by South Asian women workers and others unions and federations in Kathmandu, Nepal that a struggle will be waged for the rights, social protection and legal identity of over 50 million home-based workers, of these 80 percent women, in the region.

They appreciated the provincial government for taking the lead in announcing the home-based workers’ policy and insisted that it should be made legislation as well on the priority basis. They said that for over a decade the workers, especially in the province, were struggling for their rights and a draft bill was presented before the provincial government four years ago, yet it was gathering dust as no procedure was carried out to make it a law—and that, on the contrary, is a sheer violation of the Sindh-ruling Pakistan People’s Party manifesto.

Despite a considerable contribution to the economy by them, the home-based workers have been deprived of their rights to Minimum Wage, ethically and legally okayed working hours, social security, pension and others. They said that in textile, leather, garment and shoe industries the home-based women workers were being exploited badly and, besides the local industrialists, the international brands were also equally involved in it.  They said that by observing the day they wanted to push the governments, especially in South Asia where half of the world’s total home-based workers’ force is centered, to legislate and ensure workers rights. They demanded that home-based workers should be accepted as other workers and be registered with the Sindh Employees Social Security and Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution.

The Pakistani government should ratify the International Labor Organization’s convention 177 and legislate in light of it at the Center and at provinces. They demanded that the contract system prevalent at home-based workers industry should be brought under the legal net and the implementation of Minimum Wage law should be ensured, especially on bangles industry.  Home-based workers representative organisations should be taken on board in matters relating to them and tripartite mechanism should be employed to seek a solution to the existing problems, they said, adding that they should not be persecuted on making unions as it is their basic, human, constitutional and legal right.


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