March 09, 2023
In a convention held in the city on Thursday, women home-based workers celebrated the approval of the long awaited Punjab Home Based Workers’ Act 2023 coinciding with the celebration of International Women’s Day.
Ume Laila, the Executive Director of Homenet Pakistan spoke at the occasion saying that it was elevating to see that Pakistan was the first country to have four provincial legislations for HBWs. “These positive actions taken for the home based workers here have pulled a huge chunk of the informal workforce to the formal economy. Now they can contribute in the GDP as a formal workforce,” she said.
During the convention several observations were made regarding the status of the home based workers. A majority of HBWs are women, and their economic activities contribute significantly to their family income security and to local and national economies. But they are not generally incorporated into national and global data collection systems or into development agendas and programmes and, thus, their work and contribution remains invisible and unrecognized. As a result they also have limited access to social security, skills development opportunities, credit and markets.
HBWs contributing significantly to the national and global economies are linked with the informal economy through value chains and supply chains and local markets.
Minimum wage legislation covers all workers in industry and commercial establishments but excludes the agriculture workers (Sindh SIRA eliminates the exclusion), home-based workers, informal workers and domestic workers.
Contractual Workers and mainly women, without documentation are not registered for social welfare benefits or statuary minimum wage. Thus, they remain underpaid piece rate workers.
In other issues, no proper written agreement is signed with women home workers who work for supply chains. Absence of women from the inspection machinery does not provide conducive environment for factory inspections.
There are also no arrangements for skill development or training institutes and proper day care centers for women workers.
“The ILO convention 183, provides provisions for 16 weeks for maternity leave but the law of the land only permits 12 weeks for maternity leave,” highlighted Ume Laila. “Informal sector wages in the supply chains are less than the minimum wages. But there is next to no implementation. There exists no complaint mechanism for redress of grievance for women working in the third tire of global supply chains.”
- Ensure implementation of Punjab HBWs Act 2023 by developing rules, registration process, and access to social security.
- Systematic collection of data on number of home-based workers and their contribution to national economies
- Formulation and implementation of social protection and labour laws and initiatives, based on decent work principles and workers’ rights, so that HBWs have a life of dignity, free from discrimination, poverty and deprivation by.
- To standardize the phenomena of social protection & security issues by keeping in view the needs of urban and rural workers & HBWs women at all level.
- Ensure minimum wages for HBWs in all supply chains through immediate notification.
- ILO conventions 177 and 190 should be ratified.
- Extension of Workers Welfare Board to informal sector workers; inclusion of women workers in the board to be ensured.
- Ensuring participation and voice of HBWs in the formulation of policies and in monitoring implementation;
- Promote collective bargaining and formal collective agreements with employers and/or with governments (as per ILO Convention 98).
- Ensure affordable and accessible social protection floors, according to ILO Recommendation R 202, adopted in 2012 comprising five essential components: child care, maternity benefits, health insurance, old age and disability pensions;
- Make occupational safety and health an integral component of social protection.
- Harassment 2010 act must be implemented in full spirit with inclusion of HBW/DWs. Provincial laws on Harassment at workplace to be amended ensuring inclusion of HBWs and DWs.
- Budget allocation for HBWs implementation of law and allocation of quota for Day care centers must be established at all work places.
- Amendment in the Maternity benefits ordinance for increase in the leave relaxation period from 12 to 16 weeks as per ILO convention.
- Inclusion of the informal workers and HBWs in the Minimum wage ordinance 1961.
- Enhancing Capacity and increased coordination with Labour Departments on issues of informal economy.
- Appointment of Women Inspection officer of the labor department in all districts.
- At the industrial surface social and employees benefits are neglected under the industry’s premises in more contractual employment is more preferred rather than permanent employees.
- Engagement with Employers for orientation on gender based policy. Assist employers by forming gender policy implementation plans at workplaces
- Establishment of women based training institute to enhance the women employment in industries and manufacturing supply chains and entrepreneurship development.
- Allocation of Quota system in TEVYA and VTI for women in informal sector and introduction of proper and effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism for different manufacturing courses.
- Promotion of Women employment exchange and to establish a data base of skill related, service provider on some products or managerial skills for women employments in industrial hub.
- Allocation of funds for women friendly HR policies for their benefits, promotions, hiring should be introduced within all supply chain.
- All Labor laws should be translated in local language or at least in Urdu.
- Workers must be registered with the EOBI, Social Security, health, insurance schemes, and workers welfare board and Bat ul Mal.
- Ensure training of women in entrepreneurship management to reduce the role of middleperson.
- Regular exhibitions, public stalls and selling units for women products should be in place at district level and proper allocation of budget for holding the exhibitions on regular basis be mandatory for district and provincial governments.
- Provisions for ensuring financial inclusion of women in the home base sector.
- Inclusion of informal sector workers especially women in GSP plus status of Pakistan.
- In light of the National Action Plan of Business and Human Rights, home based workers should be duly acknowledge and protected as a third tier of workers with the manufacturing supply chains.