KARACHI, March 17: Representatives of trade and labour unions and civil society activists on March 16 demanded that the government provide labour and constitutional rights to home-based workers.
They were speaking at one-day provincial conference on home-based workers on “Finalization of the Implementation of Strategy for HBWs in Sindh”. The event was jointly organized by HomeNet Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Oxfam at PILER Centre.
The conference was attended by several home-based workers from across Sindh.
Justice (r) Majida Razvi, chairwoman Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC); Umm-e-Laila Azhar of HomeNet Pakistan; Habibuddin Junaidi, convenor Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee; Karamat Ali, executive director of PILER; Mehnaz Rehman, director Aurat Foundation; Zahra Goawala, researcher; Majid Aziz, president of Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP); Ashraf Naqvi, joint director of Labour and Human Resource Department of Sindh; Ali Arslan, economist; Zulfiqar Shah, joint director PILER; Irfana Jabbar and Rehana Yasmeen, representatives of home-based workers spoke on the occasion.
The speakers pointed out that estimated 12 million poor women working as home-based workers are the least paid and most exploited in the value chain of production processes being in an extremely disadvantageous social and cultural positions. All home-based workers should be provided the fundamental right of association to form unions. Home-based workers are invisible because they work at homes and unorganised due to nature of their work.
Home-based workers of Sindh welcome the Sindh chief minster’s initiative to launch the first-ever policy for home-based workers in Asia. It is a step forward towards the recognition of home-based workers, policy recommendations presented on the occasion stated. The Sindh government was urged 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 including upgrading of homes of HBWs, which are also their work places; skill development (including re-skilling for alternative employment) and appropriate literacy programmes, including financial literacy; social protection, including occupational health and safety; access to credit and economic resources.
Right to association and social protection should be provided to all home-based workers. The speakers demand to issue social protection cards for women working in the home based informal economy. To create awareness on occupational safety and health and provisions of services at their door steps special sessions be held. The right to collective bargaining must be ensured.
Appropriate bargaining forums at the city level must be created, they must be enshrined in law, and there must be sufficient budgetary provision for them to function effectively. This requires designing the rules of participation, establishing criteria for determining the issues for negotiation, and envisaging how such new forums will engage with the wider policymaking and regulatory frameworks so that these become a meaningful part of participatory decision-making.
The speakers underlined the need that representation of workers from the informal sector to be ensured in the local government ancillary bodies giving 33 percent representation to women; workers from informal sector must be involved in the urban and town planning bodies, committees of local, provincial and urban planning cells/units.
The speakers underlined the need that rights based organizations should monitor and make sure implementation of all international conventions, especially which have been committed by Pakistan under GSP-Plus scheme by European Union.
Published by Daily Times on March 17, 2017