KARACHI: Regretting continued violations of labour rights in the province, speakers at a meeting held on Thursday called upon the government to finalise rules of Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act passed in 2019.

Jointly organised by the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC), Awaz Foundation, Pakistan, Centre for Development Services and NARI Foundation, the second meeting of the Provincial Stakeholders Alliance (PSA) focused on the law for women agricultural workers in Sindh.

In his remarks, SHRC chairperson Iqbal Detho explained that it’s important to make and enforce provincial labour laws in the light of constitutional provisions and conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Highlighting relevant constitutional articles and conventions, Mr Detho underscored the significance of freedom of association, collective bargaining, gender equality and social security at the workplace.

Labour officer Reejo Mal shed light on the rules of business of the Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Act 2019, describing it as a historic legislative milestone in South Asia.

To the concerns over the delay, he said the rules had been sent to the ILO for review and that the document would be sent to the law department for vetting once the feedback of the world labour body was received.

The act, he pointed out, had provisions to safeguard the rights and welfare of women agriculture workers. Under the act, women workers could opt for collective bargaining, social welfare, including child health, community development, economic profit and for accessing publicly supplied goods and services.

Moreover, he said, initiatives such as the Sindh Maternity Benefits Act 2018 and the Sindh Home-Based Workers Act 2018 signified the province’s commitment to address gender disparities and provide a conducive environment for all workers.

It was pointed out that the Sindh government was poised to repeal 22 outdated laws, consolidating them for streamlining labor regulations and ensuring comprehensive protection for workers.

The consultation also witnessed discussions on amendments to the existing labour laws and the introduction of progressive measures such as the provision of transport, separate facilities for female workers and the establishment of district vigilance committees (DVCs) to enforce the Sindh Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 2015.

The speakers included Shafqat Larik, Farhat Parveen, Barrister Rida, Akram Khawaja and Abdul Hameed Sheikh.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2024

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