Govt wants to bring informal sector workers into social security net

Published May 2, 2021
The government has recommended devising a mechanism under which all labourers in the informal sector are registered and provided socio-economic protection. — Photo by Zofeen T. Ebrahim/File
The government has recommended devising a mechanism under which all labourers in the informal sector are registered and provided socio-economic protection. — Photo by Zofeen T. Ebrahim/File

ISLAMABAD: The government has recommended devising a mechanism under which all labourers in the informal sector – including those in the agriculture sector - are registered and provided socio-economic protection.

The proposal came in its ‘Sympathy for Workers Report’ launched under social welfare Ehsaas Programme on May Day.

To this end, Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (PASSD) is setting up a dedicated ‘Mazdoor Ka Ehsaas’ (MKE) Unit to continuously work for the welfare of informal, agriculture sector workers as well as workers in the formal sector who are not protected by current social security measures.

The report was launched in a webinar co-chaired by SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar and SAPM on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (OPHRD) Syed Zulfikar Bukhari.

The newly launched MKE report recommends that every labour worker in Pakistan should be provided with the social protection and minimum standard of living.

Under the umbrella of Ehsaas, Dr. Sania has established the Ehsaas Labour Welfare and Social Protection Expert Group, in a tripartite arrangement.

The mandate of Labour Expert Group is to propose evidence-based practical recommendations to safeguard workers’ welfare.

The LEG brings together distinguished experts representing the government at the federal and provincial levels, employers, trade unions, academia, private sector, development partners and NGOs.

The Expert Group has made strenuous efforts to widely consult, deliberate and realistically propose crucial areas of interventions for expanding social protection with maximum multiplier gains for the labour class.

Formally welcoming findings of the report, SAPM Dr Sania stated, ‘Our prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the first to stand for the rights of workers when he said to ‘pay the worker his wages before his sweat has dried’.

The MKE report is the first of its kind that will help the government to focus on universalising the social protection system in Pakistan and with a particular emphasis on including informal economy workers in the fold of social protection.”

She said: “Labour Force Survey 2017-18 microdata suggests that 24.89 million workers are at risk for jobs disruption and income losses.

The government has taken unprecedented steps to minimise the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ehsaas Emergency Cash 2020 is an example of that, which largely protected over 14.8 million daily wage earners and their households whose livelihoods had been adversely impacted by the Covid -19 crisis.”

The webinar offered a unique opportunity to all stakeholders to sit together and deliberate on avenues for action on policy recommendations of MKE report.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2021

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