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October 22, 2019

Home-based workers demand implementation of provincial law governing their rights

Karachi

October 22, 2019

Shouting the slogan, “Taiz ho, Taiz ho, Jiddojuhd Taiz Ho [Let our struggle gain momentum]”, a group of more than a hundred men and women marched from the Fawara Chowk to the Karachi Press Club on Monday to demand the implementation of the Sindh Home-Based Workers Act.

The demonstrators also urged the other provinces of the country to follow Sindh in legislating for the rights of the home-based workers.

The rally was led by the Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) general secretary Zehra Khan who said the women of Sindh, after their 10-year-long struggle, had made a history by achieving a law for themselves that guaranteed their rights as workers.

“The women are not only changing themselves but are also changing the way of thinking of society,” Zehra remarked, taking pride in being part of them. “We give motivation to each other and this way we stay committed to our cause.”

She said that in the past 30 years, the women peasants from Okara, lady health workers, teachers, nurses and home-based workers had strengthened the labour movement in the country. “We want better laws, an end to the discriminatory ones and fair implementation.”

She explained that the Sindh Assembly was the first legislative forum in South Asia to pass a law for the home-based workers (HBW). The law gives rights to the HBWs to have social security and pension but it will remain a mere document until it is implemented, she added.

Another participant at the rally, Saira Feroz, who is the general secretary of the United Home Based Garments Workers Union, shared the same feelings. “A year on, unfortunately the rules for the law have not been made,” she said. “Until the government does the full work, the situation cannot change.”

Commenting on the unionisation process, National Trade Union Federation’s Nasir Mansoor said it was momentous that the HBWs were becoming parts of unions and emerging as fresh and strong voices. He added that workers were joining hands because the divide in society was getting bigger.

The participants of the rally demanded that the Sindh government issue a notification on the rules of the Home-Based Workers Act and implement it, and other provinces should follow the example of Sindh and legislate for the home-based workers.

They further demanded that the process to register HBWs with the social security institutions be expedited and their wages be set according to the minimum wage law. They also asked the Pakistani government to ratify the International Labour Organisation's Convention 177 and the Sindh government to allocate a fund for HBWs.

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