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Passage of landmark legislation for home-based workers hailed

By News Desk
May 11, 2018

HomeNet Pakistan, home-based workers and civil society organisations have welcomed the passage of the Sindh Home- based Workers Act 2018 in the provincial assembly.

Addressing a joint press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday, activists said it was a historic day to celebrate and applauded the Sindh government for passing the new law.

They also appreciated Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Law Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar and Labour Minister Syed Nisar Hussain Shah’s initiative to bring a legislative protection framework for over 748,056 urban and 1.9 million rural home- based workers (HBWs) of Sindh who, they said, fell into the informal bracket of the economy.

Sindh has become the first province to adopt this policy for the home-based workers (HBWs). “It is indeed a step forward toward the recognition of the home-based workers of the province. The Sindh Labour and Human Resource Department has been following it up for the past few years,” said Ume Laila Azhar, Executive director of HomeNet Pakistan.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had previously announced the policy for the home-based workers, thus fulfilling the party’s commitment to provide them workers’ status and acknowledge their contribution.

Speaking on the occasion, a home-based worker said, “We have fought for this fundamental constitutional right to get the status of worker. The Sindh government has finally given us the status of a worker by bringing an exclusive law for the HBWs.”

Karamat Ali, executive director of PILER, said: “Home- based workers being the significant proportion of the workforce were denied the basic rights. With the legislation now, Sindh would be the first province to get the identification and recognition of home-based workers, and ensure the mainstreaming of home-based workers into the provincial economy under the act. The Sindh government needs to be applauded for this action and for bringing the HBWs under social protection network.”

Mahnaz Rahman, resident director of Aurat Foundation, said, “HBWs have collectively showed their power and deserve applause for bringing their issues to the mainstream. Collectively, they have survived and come a long way from invisibility to visibility. Pakistan has achieved milestone in policy formulation, but it is very important to ensure practical implementation of law.”

The HBWs Act 2018 will formulate a Provincial Council based on the members as proposed and will also notify district committees for ensuring the implementation of the law. As per the law provisions, the labour department will initiate the data collection within the province and open registration of the HBWs leading to their accessibility to social security schemes. The HBWs would be registered as workers.

Rehana Yasmin, a representative of home-based workers, said that after decades-long hard work and struggle, a policy for the HBWs had been approved. “HBWs registration with the social protection mechanism should start immediately from Karachi and extend to other districts. The Sindh government has taken a good step,” she said.

“Millions of HBWs were awaiting the approval of legislation which would give them the status of a worker,” said a HBWs leader from Korangi.