Saturday July 20, 2024

‘Even with a law in place, home-based workers still have a long way to go’

By Zoya Anwer
October 22, 2018

Women workers from across Sindh participated in a convention held to commemorate the International Home Based Workers’ Day in the city on Saturday.

Women working in sectors where manual labour can be done from home such as knitting, bangle making and sequin making, among others, attended the event which was organised by the Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF).

Addressing the gathering, representatives of the HBWWF lauded the passing of the Home-Based Workers Act by the Sindh government earlier this year, but also reminded the workers that the struggle for equality must continue. HBWWF’s Zehra Khan congratulated the women for fighting for their rights and explained the benefits of having a law in place.

“As of now, Sindh is the only province which has got the law, but the rules of business are yet to be framed and a 14-member committee, including representatives of the stakeholders, are working on the rules,” she said. “With the law in place, home-based workers will be given the same rights as a factory worker which means right to accommodation, health, education and job security among others.”

Khan added that once the rules of business were drafted, it was on the workers to implement and use the law by registering themselves. “We all will have to take the responsibility by forcing the authorities to recognise our services by registering us,” she said. “One cannot do this alone so take it as a duty to register your fellow workers and then they would pass on the message so that we come out as a force and not individuals.”

Sharing the journey, Khan said that it was difficult to organise home-based workers as compared to factory workers because bringing women out of their homes is a tedious process but because of the dedication and willpower of workers the HBWWF came into being a decade ago.

She said that women must remember that they fight a dual battle which is of their class and then their gender because even in their own class, men will continue to oppress them by limiting mobility or using the force of violence to restrict them.

Addressing the convention, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) said that the state also managed to play with the ideologies of labourers and did not let them organise for political gains.

He said: “We also kept getting divided on the basis of sect and were turned against each other. Instead of being a labourer we became just Shias or Sunnis. It’s high time that we take the politics in our own hands and not let others decide our fate. People who do not belong to our group will never empathise with us. So, I encourage all of you to participate in the upcoming elections in the cities in 2019 to make sure the representative in your area may fight for our rights.”

Explaining her motivation to participate in the convention, an Organi-based worker said that only being united could help them get their rights. “How can we win if we refuse to fight,” she questioned. “We have been asked to be bound by men but now it’s time to show that we can be as strong as men and we will continue our struggle even if they refuse to support us.”

Speaking about her experience, Akbari who hailed from Hyderabad and represents Home-Based Bangle Workers Union, said that bangle workers are not given adequate remuneration: “But thankfully now we are given Rs17 for one tola as compared to Rs3 and Rs5 earlier.”

She also mentioned that the health of workers was often ignored and many suffered burns and eye infections. However, the federations have repeatedly been trying to get them rights by mentioning it in the gazette.