Wednesday May 22, 2024

Sindh approves policy to regularise home-based workers

By our correspondents
January 17, 2017

Bill soon to be drafted and tabled in the assembly would

legally secure five million workers, mostly women

Labour organisations’ decades-long arduous struggle finally seems to have borne fruit as the Sindh government has approved a policy for official recognition of the country's around five million women home-based workers as formal labour entitled to all legal benefits.

Leaders of the Home-Based Women Workers’ Federation (HBWWF), an independent labour body, at a presser on Monday thanked Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the provincial government, labour department, specially the CM’s adviser on labour issues Senator Saeed Ghani to have heeded to their cause.

CM Shah had approved the policy in November last year; however, an official notification for it was issued by the law and justice department on January 13.

HBWWF Secretary General Zehra Khan said it was the first time in the country and in South Asia that such a policy was adopted by a government.

“Hundreds of thousands of workers in Sindh will benefit from this policy. If other provinces and the federal government also follow Sindh's example, many more workers across Pakistan stand to gain immense benefits,” Zehra asserted.

United Home-Based Garment Union’s Saira Feroz, HBWWF’s information secretary Shabnam Azam, Shamim Bano, Zahida Parveen and other women labour leaders were also present at the press conference.

In the light of this policy, a draft bill, in the making, was also expected to be tabled in the provincial assembly soon for further legal framework on it. The home-based workers would then be entitled to social security, pension, right to unionise, collective bargaining and other benefits a labourer was ought to have as per law. Moreover, they could also now reach out to labour courts for hearing of their cases.

Zehra while speaking to The News said there were over 12 million home-based workers in Pakistan, of which five million were in Sindh. “More than 80 per cent are women and usually craft bangles, stitch and embroider clothes, make surgical goods, peel prawns and package material.”

The majority women workers had for around a decade been endeavouring to get legal recognition. The women of this informal sector organised themselves under the HBWWF’s banner to continue with their struggle.

HBWWF was registered with the National Industrial Relations Commission in 2009, gave voice to the oppressed workers of the sector and built their capacity to stand up for their rights.

It is the only organisation in the country whose whole leadership was composed of revolutionary women from the working class. It was the organization's struggle that a policy, soon to be drafted into a bill, and tabled in the provincial assembly.