KARACHI: Speakers at a seminar on Monday urged the government to approve a policy on home-based workers so that they were recognised under the law and got legal protection for their rights and benefits.

Over 10 million people worked from their homes but they were not recognised under the law with the result they remained unable to get facilities available to workers under the law, the speakers explained.

The seminar was organised by the Homenet Pakistan and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) in Lyari.

The speakers also urged home-based workers to organize themselves and get registered with unions to secure their rights. They highlighted the need to create awareness among the home-based workers regarding their rights as they could demand their rights only when they knew what their rights were.

Marium Essa of Homenet Pakistan said that a policy to secure rights of home-based workers had been drafted which was yet to be approved by the government. Without the policy approval, she said, home-based workers would not be able to get their rights. She demanded that the policy be approved immediately so that the home-based workers could enjoy the rights and benefits that were available to other workers.

Sana Rubab of Piler urged home-based workers to join trade unions so that they could get support of other workers. Currently, she explained, contractors or some organisations approached workers individually at their homes and as the workers did not know what the other workers were being paid for same work they ended up getting less amount than others doing the similar work.

She said that if the workers were members of the unions they could share information and also could collectively demand their wages.

Citing an example of low wages, a home-based worker from Korangi, , Zarina, said she had been preparing “biddis” for the past 10 years and received only Rs10 for 1,000 biddis.

Ameeran Begum, who has been working from her Baldia residence, said she had been sewing towels for the past 15 years and hardly earned Rs50 to Rs60 a day.

Rehana Yasmin of Hosiery Garment Textile Union, Shafiq Ghauri of Sindh Labour Federation, Muqadar Zaman of Pakistan Railway Trade Union, Khalid Rauf of Muttahida Labour Federation, Naghma Shaikh of Democratic Student Federation, Javeria Qureshi, Zeenat Naz and others also spoke at the seminar.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2015

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