Home-based workers: Policy put off ‘due to dengue’

Published: October 10, 2011

11 to 13 per cent of the total workforce is engaged in the informal sector to produced value added products. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: 

The Labour and Human Resource Department says dengue is the reason that a provisional policy for the registration and regulation of home-based domestic workers hasn’t been forwarded to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

Department officials said that the policy had been drafted on August 27 and forwarded to the chief secretary, but it had not been sent to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat yet.

The draft policy, a copy of which is available with The Tribune, calls for the formation of a Provisional Council on Home Based Workers “to deliberate on all related issues and make recommendations for the approval of the chief minister”.

The policy was formed in the wake of the 18th Amendment, which delegated labour as a provincial subject.

The council would include Senior Advisor to the Chief Minister Sirdar Zulfiqar Khosa, Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, three members of the Punjab Assembly to be nominated by the chief minister, the social welfare secretary, the local government secretary, the law and parliamentary affairs secretary, the industries secretary and the labour and human rights secretary as official members.

Representatives of NGOs helping home-based workers, representatives of registered worker organisations, representatives of home-based workers and an employers’ representative would be non-government members.

The draft policy states that existing labour laws will be reviewed. It says there are an estimated 8.52 million home-based workers in the country of which 65 percent are women. “They are not covered by any labour laws nor is the definition of home-based workers part of any statute,” a Labour Department official said.

Asked about the delay in the policy, he said: “From our side the work is complete. The council will go through our suggestions and give its recommendations to finalise the policy. The summary for the formation of the council is pending because the CM’s Secretariat is busy with dengue.”

HomeNet Pakistan Executive Director Ume Laila Azhar, a proposed non-official member of the council, said that the policy was an urgent need. “We need to start registering workers,” she said, “There isn’t any authentic data on HBWs but there are millions of them in the Punjab.”

She said that hiring procedures for home-based workers needed examination. “There is a middleman who arranges jobs for the home-based workers. There is no contract between them and the arrangement often exploits the worker. The role of these middle-men needs to be checked,” she said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2011.

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