Karachi, October 20: A convention here Saturday demanded registering home-based workers with the social security institutions, fixing their minimum wages and enacting laws to grant them a legal status in other provinces.

Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) hosted a home-based workers convention at the Godhra Community Hall New Karachi on the occasion of the international day of home-based workers. It was presided over by HBWWF general secretary Zehra Khan, while Saba Faisal Edhi was the chief guest. Home-based women workers belonging to different cities and different industries attended the moot.

Zehra Khan, General Secretary HBWWF said that as per an estimated there are 100 million home based workers in the world and out of them 50 million are present in the South Asia, 80 percent of them are women. However, these workers despite being the part of the production process are deprived of their just and legal rights. They are forced to work on very low wages and in difficult working conditions. She further said that declaration was passed by South Asian women workers and others unions and federations in Kathmandu, Nepal that a struggle will be waged for the rights, social protection and legal identity of over 50 million home-based workers in the region.

She appreciated the provincial government for taking the lead in announcing the home-based workers act on May 9, 2018 and made a new history by recognizing more than 5 million home-based workers of Sindh. Under this Act the home-based workers would be given rights like the workers of the formal sector of union making, electing their CBAs, social security and pension. Hundreds of thousands of the home-based workers have warmly welcomed this move and congratulated the Sindh government and pledged that they would also struggle so that the home-based workers of the other provinces also get the rights like the home-based workers of Sindh.  

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She said that after enacting this law, Sindh has become the first region not only in Pakistan and South Asia but also in whole world where the home-based workers after their struggle spanning over a century have gotten their recognition and rights, and for the first time they were included in the definition of a worker. After approval of this Act, these home-based workers would get facilities and privileges like the workers of formal sector. In addition she said that HBWWF raised HB workers issue as a class issue rather to just consider it as only a women issue so the home based workers recognized as labour in law.

Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of National Trade Union Federation, NTUF, said that rules play an important role in laws. They regretted that this historical law could not be implemented till its rules are formed. They said that the Sindh labor department on September 25, 2018 had issued a notification and formed a 14-member committee to implement this law and suggest amendments in the SESSI, EOBI and Home-based Act. This committee has started drafting the rules which would be presented in the meeting of the committee soon.

Shakeela Khan, information secretary of Home Based Women Bangle Workers Union (Hyderabad), said the home-based workers in Pakistan are an important pillar of the national economy, but still they are out of the orbit of minimum wages. Even today the home-based workers are deprived of the right of equal wages. The notification of the minimum wages for the home-based workers of glass bangle industry is yet to be issued despite passage of three years. In 2018 also the HBWWF has submitted a draft about amendments in minimum wages for glass bangle industry home-based workers but it is still put on the back burner by the Sindh Minimum Wage Board. The moot demanded that the notification for the minimum wages of glass bangle industry workers should be issued at the earliest so that these workers could get fair wages for their work.

Saba Faisal Edhi, Edhi Foundation, Chief Guest of the event, said that Edhi Foundation will stand with women workers and encouraged all HBWs on their hard work.  

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The convention demanded that to get the home-based workers registered with the social security institution a law should be enacted. The minimum wages for home-based workers should be fixed and a notification should be issued for the minimum wages for glass bangles industry. Like Sindh in other provinces also the home-based workers should be recognized as workers.  The home-based workers should be given representation in all departments related to labors, as well as, in tripartite dialogue process.

In the end of the program appreciation award were given.

Those spoke included Nasir Mansoor deputy general secretary NTUF, Saira Feroze general secretary United H B Workers Union, Jameela Abdul Latif general secretary Home-based Women Bangle Workers Union, Sajjida Kausar of Home-based Workers Federation Sanghar, Kausar Parveen of Home-based Women Workers Federation Shahpur Chakar and Shakeela Khan of Home-based Women Workers Federation Hyderabad.

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