National Convention of Home Based Workers

LAHORE: Stressing upon the legal recognition of ‘Home Based Workers’(HBWs) as ‘labour’, national convention of HBWs call for legislation as well as policy framing for suppressed workers in all provinces. 

Coming up with a charter of 12 demands, the national convention of ‘HBWs’ through a resolution asked the government to consider ‘HBWs’ as labour. 
A first ever National Convention of ‘HBWs’ hailed from different parts of the country here on Saturday at Aiwan-e-Iqbal under the banner of Labour Education Foundation (LEF) to raise the voice of suppressed HBWs which was attended by a large number of workers, representatives of trade unions and government officials.

The participants of the convention highlighted the situation being faced by HBWs across the country. The representatives of HBWs informed the participants about the problems and grievances of HBWs. They were of the view that due to non-recognition as labour, HBWs are being deprived of many due rights under labour laws. 

However they are not getting their due rights under the labour and other relevant laws only because they are not registered and covered under these laws as well as government’s social protection and welfare schemes. Participants told the convention those Home-based women workers are exploited by contractors and made to work for up to 20 hours a day against a nominal wage.

The bangle industry of Hyderabad alone has hundreds of thousands of female workers who are not getting their due rights. These workers are exposed to serious health hazards as dangerous chemicals are used in the bangle-making process. Bangle-making is mostly done at home and the entire family becomes engaged in the production process. The health risks they are exposed to include cancer, tuberculosis, asthma and eye, bone and skin diseases.

Addressing the convention, Secretary Labour & Human Resource, Government of Punjab, captain ® Muhammad Yusuf intimate that Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has directed to legislate about HBWs, though there were complications in the framing of policy but now the draft of law has almost finalized and within next one or two months after the approval from provincial assembly will be enforced. He asked HBWs and trade unions to submit proposals to finalize the draft law. He also told the audience that backlog of marriage, death and education grant will be cleared soon as Punjab government has released Rs one billion for the purpose. He also added that law of minimum wages for HBWs will be implemented in true letter and spirit as soon as the law gets nod from Punjab assembly.

The convention was also addressed by Khalid Mahmood director LEF, Mahnaz Rafi, political and human rights activists, Khurshid Ahmed , General Secretary Pakistan Workers Confederation, Rubina jamil, President Pakistan Workers Confederation, Niaz Khan , President Pakistan Workers Confederation Punjab, Shahnaz Iqbal, Associate Director LEF, Hammad Khan, Legal Consultant Women Development Department, Salma Butt, MPA Punjab Assembly, Salman Abid, SPO, Irfan Mufti, South Asia Partnership Pakistan, Yusaf Baloch, Chairman national Trade Union Federation, Aslam Mairaj, Generaj General Secretary Labour Qaumi Movement and Um-e-Laila, Home Net. 
The representatives of trade unions and human right activists ensured the gathering of HBWs that they would extend all out support to the rights of HBWs. 

In the resolution, governments of all the provinces have been asked to make legislations as well as frame policies regarding ‘HBWs’.
It was further demanded that provision of social security and Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) for the ‘HBWs’ must be ensured. The convention did ask the government to ensure the implementation of minimum wage rule in the case of ‘HBWs’. The participants of the convention demanded of the government to endorse the international labour Organisation (ILO) convention C177 besides ensuring easy access to local and international markets for ‘HBWs’. 

The Convention demanded that data about the ‘HBWs’ must be gathered through a nationwide survey. The resolution that was adopted unanimously by the representatives of trade unions and as many as 1500 ‘HBWs’ from across the country to observe October 20 as ‘HBWs’ day on national level. 
The resolution demanded of the government to grant right of forming a trade union to ‘HBWs’. The convention asked the government to initiate special steps to improve the living standards of ‘HBWs’ .The convention asked that ‘HBWs’ must be provided training and skill development opportunities. The national convention of the ‘HBWs’ has also asked the government to finale policies like privatization as these are causing surging of informal sector especially ‘HBWs’. 

Issued by:
Khalid Mahmood




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