Govt asked to ratify ILO Convention 177, give rights to home-based workers


Hyderabad: Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) staged a peaceful protest rally in front of Hyderabad Press Club here on Wednesday on the occasion of international decent work day and demanded of the government to ratify the convention 177 of international labour organization (ILO) and recognize the home-based workers as workers under labour laws.

A large number of women home-based workers belonging to glass bangle and other sectors attended the rally, led by HBWWF central general secretary Zahra Khan.

Addressing the rally, Zahra Khan said that like other parts of the world in Pakistan also the production process is being shifted from formal to informal work sector. This results in depriving workers of all their privileges obtained by them under the local and international labour laws. She said the number of women workers in the informal sector is rising with every passing day. She said there are about 16million women workers in Pakistan who are not being recognized as workers under the labour laws. These home-based women workers have been playing an important role in textile, garment, leather, sports goods and important industrial sectors. As these workers are not in the ambit of law they are deprived of social security, old age benefit, union making and CBA electing rights. She said in this backdrop the home-based women workers have made a historic achievement by getting their organization registered under the name of Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), which has been struggling for ratification of homework convention 177 of ILO.

Jameela Jabbar of Home-based Women Bangle Workers Union general secretary said that hundreds of thousands of women workers of glass bangle industry have been facing grim economic scenario due to pathetic work conditions. Harmful chemicals used in the glass bangle industry are spreading cancer, TB, joint pain, asthma and others diseases amongst women workers. These women work along with their whole families for 12 to 14 hours a day on meagre wages.

National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) leader Shakeela Khan said that the precarious work has become the hallmark of all production sectors in Pakistan. In whole world more and more workers are being engaged in production process on temporary basis. Permanent jobs, good wages and work safety and health facilities are under attack in whole world. To get more and more profit the industrialists have launched contract labour system with full force. Workers are left to the mercy of market forces in violation of all labour laws and norms, and these market rules are set by big corporations, multinational companies and international financial institutions.

She said that despite the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the contract labour the capitalists are reluctant to end this cruel system and they also enjoy a covert support of the government in this regard. She said on the occasion of the international decent work day Pakistani workers like the labours of whole world also pledge to struggle for the elimination of the contract labour system and the precarious work.

The participants demanded that all workers of informal sector including home-based workers should be accepted as workers under the labour laws. HBWs should be registered with EOBI and social security institutions. Home-based workers policy should be announced immediately. The government should ratify the home work convention 177 of ILO. Contract labour system should be ended and for permanent nature of work permanent recruitment should be given to workers. The right of forming labour unions and CBAs should be ensured. Privatization should be ended. Workplaces should be made secure for labours and they should be provided facilities of health and safety. Minimum wages should be fixed at Rs20000 per month at least and it should be increased proportionally with price hike.

Those spoke included HBWWF central general secretary Zahra Khan, Home-based Women Bangle Workers Union general secretary Jameela Jabbar, National Trade Union Federation leader Shakeela Khan, Shaheena Ahmed, Akbari, Bushra Dilawar and others.