KARACHI: “I work all day, ironing buckram for shirt collars. I am given the work by garment factories but I don’t work at any factory. I work from home. For 100 ironed buckram collars I get paid Rs20 only. It doesn’t cover my electricity bills,” Rukhsana Shafiq, a home-based worker, told Dawn on the occasion of International Day of Home-based Workers on Monday.
A rally of home-based workers, organised by the Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), was also taken out with a majority of women workers holding up red flags and placards asking for their rights as they walked under the hot sun from Fawwara Chowk in Saddar to the Karachi Press Club.
Shazia Yaqoob, another home-based worker, said that she did Baloch embroidery at home.
“It is intricate work and doing embroidery work on one shirt, shalwar and dupatta takes me about two months. I get paid Rs300 per suit,” she said. “This is all the work I know and I work hard doing it but feel I am not getting what I really deserve.”
The rallying workers demanded that the Sindh government issue early notification of rules and procedures of the Sindh Home-Based Workers Act so that the law could be practically implemented.
Scores of workers take out a rally to mark International Day of Home-based Workers
Zehra Khan, HBWWF’s central general secretary, said that her NGO had been fighting for the rights of workers including peasant women, lady health workers, teachers and nurses for three decades now.
“It was after a long and untiring struggle that home-based workers in Pakistan, especially in Sindh, have gotten accepted their legal status in the form of the passing of the Home-based Workers Act, which is a historic milestone not just for the home-based workers of this country but also for this region,” she said.
Saira Feroze, the general secretary of United Home-Based Garments Workers’ Union, said that even though they were grateful to the Sindh Assembly for passing of the Home-based Workers Act, it was sad to find that the rules of the act had not been formulated and there had been no implementation of the law even after the passage of one year.
“We, the home-based workers, would only be happy when the law is practically implemented,” she said.
Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation said that the struggle of women home-based workers was heroic and historic and now factory labourers also consulted with them for forming trade unions.
“It is heartening that now a large number of home-based workers are forming their unions and becoming a strong voice against the atrocities of capitalism,” he said.
The workers demanded that the government of Sindh make the rules of the Home-based Workers Act and issue its notification while practically implementing the law.
They wanted legal acceptance of home-based workers as regular workers in other provinces just like in Sindh.
They demanded that all home-based workers should be registered with social security institutions. They also wanted better wages.
They said that wages should be given to home-based workers involved in making glass bangles as per the government notification. The wages of home-based workers should be fixed on the pattern of Sindh Minimum Wage Board, it was said along with the demand for the federal government to ratify the ILO Convention 177.
It was also said that home-based workers and their contractors should be registered and all supply chain workers should be given legal status along with the right to make their own trade unions.
It was also demanded that the Sindh government should allocate annual funds for welfare of home-based workers. Another demand was the strict implementation of the law to stop harassment at workplaces.
Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2019