Tuesday April 23, 2024

Call to recognise home-based workers

By our correspondents
June 21, 2016


An NGO launched a campaign for the celebration of two decades of Convention-177 in Pakistan. Home-based workers leaders, civil society members, trade unions and women rights activists jointly generated a demand for the ratification of C-177 in a press conference at the Lahore Press Club.

They said, "on June 20, 1996, the convention 177 was adopted by the General Assembly of ILO. This was an evidence of the existence and presence of the hidden and invisible home workers who are silently contributing to the world economy but still not considered as workers."

Ume Laila Azhar from an NGO said that the “home-based workers being the significant proportion of the workforce were denied their basic rights. The International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Home Work Convention, 1996 (No. 177); the Kathmandu, Saarc recommendations; Declaration of 2000; and the South Asian Regional Plan of Action for home-based workers, 2007, ask the identification and recognition of home-based workers, the mainstreaming of home-based workers into national economies, the formulation of national policies for home-based workers, the integration of home-based workers into national and regional markets; and sought to raise visibility, voice and concerns.” 

The South Asian countries, including Pakistan have not so far ratified C-177. The NGOs representative Maria Kokab said after decade of long hard work and struggle, the policy had been finalised and presented in the Cabinet of Punjab and Sindh for approval. “We can link this home-based workers empowerment to international commitment but the government of Pakistan immediately has to ratify C-177”. We demand approval of workers policy in Punjab and Sindh and then in other provinces, she said. 

Political Activist Mehnaz Rafi said that Pakistan had achieved milestone in policy formulation but it was very important to ensure practical implementation of policy. 

She said the Labour policy of Punjab approved in 2015 calls for the protection of home-based workers. The government is paying delaying tactics for addressing the demands and needs of the workers. She said that workers being a major portion of the informal sector needed exclusive legislative cover. 

Khalid Mehmood, Director Labour Education Foundation said that women empowerment package 2012 included the home-based workers policy but the Punjab government failed to fulfill its commitment for protecting millions home-based workers in the province. Representative of a trade union said that home-based workers issue was a labour agenda and all the trade unions demanded the approval of the home-based workers policy, that should immediately be approved as a large portion of women are workers too. They need social protection, coverage, and government must bring them under social protection framework. 

The CS representatives were of the view that “home-based workers should come under the social protection mechanism.

The Punjab Social Protection Authority should issue Khidmat cards for the home-based workers. They stressed the need of ratifying C-177 and fulfilling international commitment in the light of GSP plus and SDGs. HBWs demanded fair remuneration, social protection, including occupational health and safety regulations and maternity benefits, the right to organise and freedom from discrimination.

They along with civil society representatives led a signature campaign “Hands in Hands with home-based workers” outside the Lahore Press Club.