LAHORE: HomeNet Pakistan executive director Ume Laila Azhar said on Friday that the incidence of violence against domestic workers had increased over the years.
She was speaking at a consultation organised by HomeNet Pakistan to review a policy draft formulated by the Labour and the Human Resource Department for domestic workers. Azhar said reasons for this included lack of legislation affording them protection, the solitary nature of their vocation and lack of representation. She said such circumstances called for the introduction of domestic worker-friendly polices and legislation.
All Pakistan Workers’ Trade Union general secretary Aima Mehmood said protecting rights of domestic workers working in different houses was a formidable challenge. She said the draft should include the concept of hourly-wage to ensure that domestic workers were not exploited.
Pakistan Workers’ Federation deputy secretary general Usama Tariq said a provision regarding the registration of domestic workers travelling abroad for employment should be added to the part of the draft dealing with registration of the workers.
Labour Education Foundation director general Khalid Mehmood said the government should also focus on registering policemen and employees of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). Mehmood said they also faced problems related to wages and working hours.
Integrated Programme for Elimination of Child Labour and Bonded Labour Director Javaid Iqbal Gill said that the purpose of presenting the draft was to focus efforts on its effective implementation. He urged those present on the occasion to contribute models to ensure that the policy directives were enforced. Labour Secretary Ishrat Ali said the department was doing all it could to ensure that the draft was completed soon for submission to the cabinet committee for approval. He said the holding of the consultation with people experienced in the field constituted a step forward in the direction. Ali said a new labour policy originally slated for introduction in 2014 would be presented to the cabinet in its next meeting.
The draft aims to make provisions for domestic workers by placing them on par with their counterparts in the commercial sectors. It aims to get them covered under Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution by formalising contracts and working hours. Leaders of various trade unions and organisations working on labour issues were present at the consultation. They were given the opportunity to express their reservations regarding the draft.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2015.