Registration of home-based workers remains elusive | Pakistan Today

Registration of home-based workers remains elusive

The speakers at a seminar organised by Home Net Pakistan in collaboration with Labour Education Foundation at a local hotel on Monday said the government should honour its international commitments to recognise labour rights and implement the decisions of ILO conventions C 177 for home workers and ILO convention C189 for domestic workers in letter and spirit to improve the informal working sector in Pakistan, particularly home based workers (HBWs). The seminar was organised on “Recognition of labour rights in the informal sector: ratification of ILO C 177 and C 189”.
Women rights activist and former MNA Mehnaz Rafi, economist Dr Qais Aslam, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) Regional Head Salman Abid, Home Net Pakistan Executive Director Ume Laila Azhar, labourers’ leader Farooq Tariq and Senior Programme Officer Javed Pasha and District Labour Officer Sheikh Sabir among others participated in the seminar.
The seminar was organised to highlight the contribution of workers in the informal sector and to highlight the role of convention of HBWs and domestic workers. Informal sector is the backbone of the economy but still is highly neglected. While appreciating the efforts of Home Net Pakistan to bring the home based women workers (HBWWs) in the limelight and to highlight their issues and problems, the speakers said that this labour force was actively contributing to the national exchequer, however government’s special attention for the improvement of their living standard after recognizing them as workers was required.
The speakers called upon the government to include the informal sector in its priorities to “honour the International commitments”. They said that Pakistan had a large informal sector in which nearly 76 percent of women had joined the home-based sector in the past 15 years, more specifically, it seemed that the trend for home-based work had intensified from the 1990s.
According to the countrywide data, the total workforce of HBWWs is 11,626,761 i.e. approximately 12 million women. The home-based women’s urban work force was estimated to be 3,040,269 (26 percent) and the rural work force 8,586,492 (74 percent). The urban home-based women work force in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 1,275,022 (41.9 percent), 748,056 (24.6 percent), 905,401 (29.8 percent) and 111,790 million (3.7 percent) respectively.
The rural HBWs work force in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and KP was 6,052,057 (70.5 percent), 1,925,477 (22.4 percent), 553,281 (6.4 percent), and 55,677 (0.65 percent) respectively. According to a conservative estimate, out of $160 billion size of country’s economy, $32 billion plus is in the informal sector. An approximate assessment shows that 32 percent of the informal workforce is in the wholesale and retail business, 21 percent in the manufacturing sector, 17.5 percent in community and social and personnel sector, 13.8 percent in construction and 11.1 percent in the transport sector.
The informal sector comprises small units that produce goods or services with the primary objective of generating employment and incomes for the families engaged in these activities. Informal activities have often been characterised by low levels of capital, skills, diminished access to organised markets and technologies, low and unstable incomes and poor and unpredictable working conditions. They added that women’s labour force participation had enhanced over time, and there was a sharp increase in their unemployment from one to 10 percent, this was accompanied by 40 percent decline in self-employment.
Women are much more disadvantaged in work than men and get employment where they are vulnerable and there is no decent employment. They are employed mainly in the informal sector of the economy and constituted 71.7 percent of the workforce in 2008. The speakers said that the monthly income of more than three-fourths of the employees’ of the informal sector is less than Rs 15,00 rupees.
Speakers said that new ILO standards set out that domestic workers around the world who catered for families and households, must have the same basic labour rights as those available to other workers: reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work including among others freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
Recent ILO estimates based on national surveys and censuses of 117 countries place the number of domestic workers at a minimum of 53 million, but experts say there could be 100 million in the world, considering that this kind of work is often hidden and unregistered. In developing countries, they make up at least four to 12 percent of wage employment. Around 83 percent of these workers are women or girls and many are migrant workers.
The Convention defines domestic work as work performed in or for a household or households. While the new instruments cover all domestic workers, they provide for special measures to protect those workers who, because of their young age or nationality or live-in status, may be exposed to additional risks relative to their peers, among others. The new convention will come into force after countries have ratified it. MPA Faiza Malik assured the support of the parliamentarians in Punjab Assembly for the approval of policy for HBWs and possible legislation.

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