First Annual Convention of Home Based Women Bangle Workers Union in Hyderabad (HBWBWU)         

The first annual convention of the Home Based Women Bangle Workers Union, held on January 24th 2011 at Press Club in Hyderabad, was attended by more then 500 union members representing 12 different area units. The program was presided over by Ms. Nafeesa Bibi, HBWBWU President.  Ms. Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, Minister of Women's Development, was the chief guest. The convention was held with the support of Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), Labour Education Foundation (LEF) and National Trade Union Federation. 


The program started with a speech by the General Secretary of HBWBWU in Hyderabad, Ms. Irfana A. Jabbar.  Ms. Jabbar explained her work with the home-based bangle workers in detail, and expanded on how the women formed the union and started their struggle under its banner. HBWBWU was registered with the Labour Department of Hyderabad on November 7th 2009; it was the first ever genuine union to organize home-based women bangle workers (HBWBWs), and representing 0.6 million women who faced a host of work-related problems. Ms. Jabbar commented that these women standardly labor for 12 to 14 hours, but were paid only 2 to 3 thousand per month; wages were moreover generally paid late by contractors or Palladar. She said that due to use of chemicals and gas in the manufacturing process, the women face diseases like TB, hepatitis, skin and eye issues, cancer, and arthritis; she added that if women workers fall ill they were denied any wages. She ensured that the union would continue its struggle until home-based women workers were recognized legally as laborers under the law and protect under social security.  Ms. Jabbar thanked LEF, NTUF, and the Labour Department Hyderabad for helping HB women workers in their struggle to form union.  

Next, Ms. Zehra Khan, Labour Education Foundation, General Secretary HBWWF, took the floor.  She remarked that globalization policies and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have created a crisis for workers in Pakistan; as a result of these policies, worldwide competition had converted many sectors into informal sectors. More than 80% of workers and their children were engaged in the informal economy, and the worst sufferers were women workers who worked mostly at home. Women's participation in home-based work had steadily increased over time.  Many workers, especially union leaders, had been sacked from their jobs; the government had moreover cut subsidies from social sectors, and many factories had been closed down due to the growth of the informal economy, which had been driven by these policies.  Ms. Khan said that the change had deprived millions of Pakistani workers, now associated with informal sectors of the economy, from their basic rights.  In summary she stated that these women workers, not legally acknowledged as workers, were provided no social cover. She also announced that the all-Pakistan convention of Home Based Workers Federation (HBWWF) would be held in March this year.

Mr. Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary National Trade Union Federation and Incharge Labour Education Foundation Sindh and Baluchistan, also spoke on the occasion.  He announced that the first-ever resolution on home based workers was recently presented by Ms. Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto and passed in the Sindh Assembly.  A draft version on HB had moreover already been adopted by the Federal Labor Ministry as their national policy on HBW. If the law passes, home based workers will be granted rights to facilities of health, education, pension and registration with SESSI and EOBI said by trade union leader.

On behalf of government, Ms. Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, Minister of Women's Development, and Mr. Makdoom Taufique Ahmed, ensured their full support to the home based union. Ms. Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto also announced Free Medical Camps to be available to home based women bangle workers in three different areas on 10th of February 2011.

HBWBWU is affiliated with HBWWF along with other HBWW unions form Baluchistan and other part of the country. The convention concluded with the adoption of several resolutions, by the convention participants, which are as follows:

 The home-based bangle workers should be acknowledged as workers

 They should be provided with social security

 The use of chemicals in bangle manufacturing should be stopped

 A national policy should be announced for home-based women workers

 The wages of the women bangle workers should be increased

 The Government should ratify the ILO`s home-based workers convention

The price of gas should be reduced

 Incorporate home based worker in IRA and provide facilities.

The Unions Convention was attended by the following: Ms. Nafeesa Bibi, HBWBWU President, Ms. Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, Minister of Women's Development; Mr. Makhdoom Taufique Ahmed, Additional Labour Director Hyderabad Region; Mr. Ishaq Mangrio, General Secretary of the Hyderabad Press Club; Comrade Nisar Lagari, Leader Sindh Porihat Hari Committee; Ms. Irfana A Jabbar, General Secretary HBWBWU; Ms. Zehra Khan LEF and HBWWF; and Mr. Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of the NTUF and Incharge Labour Education Foundation, Sindh and Baluchistan.





        Hearing the Unheard




Labour Education Foundation