Home-based workers seek ratification of ILO Convention C 177 | Pakistan Today

Home-based workers seek ratification of ILO Convention C 177

KARACHI – Home-based workers (HBWs), 65 percent of whom comprise women, have demanded ratification and implementation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention C 177. Representatives of these women, through the platform of the National Organisation of Working Communities and Home Net said the ratification of the international law would help the regularisation of the unregistered workers, who are exploited due to their status. “We are not only denied the officially announced minimum wages, but also deprived of essential services as healthcare, old age benefits and insurance,” said Rehana Bibi, general secretary of the Hosiery Garment Workers.
The tendency among the factory owners to sub-let work through middle men to poverty stricken men and women so as to raise their profit margins and also to evade taxes has reached alarming proportions in the country. Farhat Perveen of the National Organisation of Working Communities said that the draft of a national policy for home-based workers has been placed before the parliament while the Sindh Assembly has unanimously adopted it. “We hope to have an extremely positive response from the current government of people,” she said.
Sabiha Shah of the Lyari Community Development Programme and a senior activist working for the case of HBWs said the Commission on Labour Laws constituted in 1999 had recommended for merger of a series of laws related to workers. These, she said needs to be duly highlighted and debated upon. The two activists said the draft national policy for HBWs demands that HBWs and other unregistered workers be brought under the national labour policy, with rights equivalent to their colleagues associated with formal sectors.
Similarly a written contract must be made mandatory for any agreement between employers and workers, including women, contributing to the economy through their homes. They, in accordance to the draft policy, demanded that a three member committee be constituted for every industry in the country, assigned with the responsibility to formulate recommendations in accordance to the needs of each industry. In view of the fact that women workers along with their men counterparts serving as HBWs are exposed to serious risks to their health owing to their nature of work, there must be adequate provision for safety nets.
Presently, the work related to tube lights, bangle making, carpet weaving, shoe making, handicrafts, glass work, boutique work etc is all handled by women as piece workers. “There is absolutely no concept of protective gear or proper environment enhancing vulnerability of these workers mainly comprising women to serious health hazards,” said Farhat Perveen. Zehra Bibi, an HBW appreciated that EOBI has agreed to register them, however, she said there is need to reduce the required monthly contribution for HBWs.

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