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KARACHI: With the passage of the Home Based Workers Act 2018 approximately five million workers, mostly women, would get benefit and their due rights, said Sindh Labour Minister Nasir Shah on Saturday.

He was speaking at a workers’ function organised by the Sindh labour and human resources department and the Home Based Women Workers Federation at the Arts Council of Pakistan.

Briefing the audience regarding the efforts made to formulate the law, the minister said that a long and comprehensive process had been followed under which all stakeholders gave their input after which the legislation was passed by the Sindh Assembly on May 9, 2018.

He said after the passage of this legislation basic labour rights had been guaranteed to home-based workers.

Lauding the passage of the act, HBWWF general secretary Zara Khan urged the government to formulate relevant rules for the act so that it could be implemented instantly and workers benefitted from it.

Now under the act the people working from their homes had been recognised as workers in legal terms and they would have access to various facilities/benefits — medical facilities, pension, workers welfare fund, maternity leave, minimum wages, dowry grant, etc, — that were available to other workers.

Sindh labour secretary Rasheed Solangi said that under the act a council comprising representatives of the government, trade unions, etc, would be set up that would carry out a comprehensive survey of home-based workers in trades that they were associated with.

Committees at the district level would also be set up that would carry out registration of workers so that their rights could be protected.

National Trade Union Federation leader Nasir Mansoor on the occasion said that the International Labour Organisation had passed Convention 177 in this regard in 1996.

He said over 15 million Pakistani home-based workers had been struggling for years and urging the government to ratify this convention.

He urged other provinces to follow the initiative taken by Sindh and pass such legislation in their respective provinces so that home-based workers there could get benefit and secure their rights, including right to participate in trade union activities and collective bargaining, etc.

He said that home-based workers were involved in different fields ranging from shoemaking, jewellery making, handicrafts, fisheries, bangle making, sports goods, etc, generating over Rs400 billion for the economy. Most of their products were exported.

Trade union leaders, including Habibuddin Junaidi, Rafiq Baloch, Saira Feroz, Shabnum Azam, Pakistan Institute of Labour Rights and Education’s Karamat Ali, Ahmed Shah of the Arts Council, and others also spoke.

A large number of the representatives of home-based workers from all over the province attended the function that was organised to celebrate the passage of the act protecting their rights that they had been demanding for the past many years.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2018