LAHORE: Discussions with the government on formalisation of home-based work alone may not be enough. These should be complemented by grassroots mobilisation to pressure the government into approving a policy on home-based work, participants of a consultation meeting said on Tuesday.
The participants lamented that the Labour Department was sitting on a policy draft on home-based work since 2012. They said the department had yet to send the draft to the provincial assembly despite assurances given to the activists from time to time.
Niaz Khan from the National Trade Union Federation-Punjab said mobilisation of home-based workers (HBWs) could be crucial in ensuring that the government took the issue with due seriousness. He said trade unions and NGOs should work together with HBWs in this regard. He said considering employees of various government bodies had to resort to protest to secure their rights, workers employed in the informal sector could not hope to get any concessions without taking to the streets.
South Asia Partnership (SAP)-Pakistan Executive Director Irfan Mufti suggested that the dialogue should meanwhile be taken forward and a meeting sought with the chief minister. He said it was important to impress upon the government that formalisation of home-based workers could bring about political benefits. “It can help the ruling party broaden its support base,” he said.
Strengthening Participatory Organisation regional head Salman Abid said the government was trying to reduce the number of beneficiaries of social security schemes like the Employees Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI). He said in such a situation, the government could not be expected to consider the formalisation of HBWs.
HRCP Director Hussain Naqi suggested that employers of home-based workers should be asked to set aside a fund for payment of the fee for workers’ registration with the social security authority.
The meeting was arranged by the HomeNet – a non-government organisation working for formalisation of home-based work since 2005.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2015.
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