Informal economy: Govt urged to secure home based workers’ rights

Published: October 20, 2015
Hanif Ramay, the Muttahida Labour Federation general secretary speakinh at a press conference. PHOTO: NNI

Hanif Ramay, the Muttahida Labour Federation general secretary speakinh at a press conference. PHOTO: NNI


On the eve of International Home Based Workers (HBWs) day, several activists demanded approval and adoption of the national and provincial polices to protect workers’ rights.

At a press conference organised by HomeNet Pakistan, Maria Kokab said there were HBWs in all sectors of the economy.

“They contribute significantly to the national and global economies and are linked to the formal economy through value chains, supply chains and local markets. Often, they are not incorporated into national data collection systems and development agendas and programmes. Thus, their contribution remains unrecognised,” she said.

She said that the Punjab government should take the necessary steps for a speedy approval of its Home Based Workers policy. “The Women Empowerment Package, 2012 included such a policy. However, the government has failed to fulfill its commitment to protect millions of home-based workers. The chief minister must formally announce the policy,” she said.

She said that the government should approve and formally adopt the draft policy and legislation that had been awaiting approval of the cabinet.

Khalid Mahmood, the Labour Education Foundation director, said that HBWs should be covered under a social protection mechanism. “The Punjab government has taken some good steps for providing protection to women through legislation. However, most of our demands have not been met,” he said.

“A majority of HBWs remain unidentified, invisible, unrecognised and voiceless despite the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 177 on Home Work (1996), the Kathmandu Declaration (2000) and various other agreements. Home-based work is an important source of employment, especially for economically and socially disadvantaged women,” Hanif Ramay, the Muttahida Labour Federation general secretary, said. He said that around 75 per cent of home based workers in Pakistan were women. “The day calls for the ratification of the convention on the home based workers. The Punjab government very proactively finalised an HBW policy. The delay in its approval is causing resentment,” he said.

Jalwat form the HBW Progressive Union said that many trade unions demanded the approval of the policy. “HBWs should have freedom of association and collective bargaining under ILO Convention 87. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure workers’ participation in the formulation of policies and in monitoring and implementation,” she said.

The participants demanded adequate budget allocations, minimum wage protection, fair piece-rates and annual bonuses for home workers.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.

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