Awareness Raising Meeting with Home-Based Workers at Sialkot

HomeNet Pakistan in collaboration with Baidarie arranged an awareness raising meeting in Sialkot on April 23, 2010.

The Purpose of the Meeting

The meeting was arranged to give awareness to the HBWs of Sialkot about their labor rights and exploitation and to tell them how HomeNet Pakistan helps them, and what HomeNet Pakistan is doing for them. The National Policy for HBWs was discussed with them.

Information collected

  • Most of the HBWs are involved in football making and they get 25 to 30 rupees for each football and most of them stitch 2 footballs a day whereas the price they receive depends on the quality of football
  • A few HBWs were earning through making cricket, hockey and driving gloves
  • A few HBWs were earning their living by making mates
  • They want access to credit on easy grounds

The participants asked about ILO C-177 convention. So the key points of the conventions were shared with them and they were provided with ILO C177 booklets for further details

Major Problems

The HBWs of Sialkot are facing many problems as the other HBWs all over the country.

  • The payments are not regular
  • Working hours are too long, but these working also do not help decreasing poverty due low wages
  • They do not have any health facility
  • Their income is too low to give education to their children

Expectation of Participants from HNP

  • Provisions of machinery by lobbying with Government
  • Launching of training programs and help in linkages building
  • Involve the HBWs of Sialkot in Exposure visits
  • HNP will be successful in implementing the National Policy for HBWs

Awareness Raising Meeting at Sibi

HomeNet Pakistan organized a meeting in an Awareness Raising Meeting in Sibi in April 03, 2010. Fifty eight participants attended the meeting and there were 51Women and 7Men. These were including Home-Based Workers and Organization, government, and media representatives. Saima Javed and Haroon Dawood conducted the meeting.

Khawateen Development Society Alah abad, Rehber Welfare society, Itehad community Development society, Watan education, research and development society Sibi, Bird vocational centre Ghareebabad, Rising women welfare society, Star welfare society Killi Roz Mohd., Roshini welfare society, Ghareebabd, Roshan Khayal Dastakari center, Rabia Dastkari center, Home dastkari center and BRSP.

National Identity Card Campaign for Home-Based Workers

HomeNet Pakistan in collaboration with Parwarish Welfare Foundation Gujranwala and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) arranged a National Identity Card campaign for the Home-Based Workers of District Gujranwala, in the first quarter of this year.

The campaign held in three series in the different towns of district Gujranwala in January, February and March. During the campaigns 1271 people benefitted from this campaign and got their Identity cards.

During these campaigns Home-Based Workers were especially focused. They were told about the importance their ID card. This campaign made them convinced that without their ID cards they cannot even be counted as a citizen of Pakistan and thus they cannot even raise their voice before the government for getting their basic rights and they do not even have the right to vote in the elections. They were told how crucial is getting their identity cards issued and that without Identity Cards, it was difficult for them to get their rights as labors and that they cannot even get their social security cards. Thus due to this campaign most of the HBWs of District Gujranwala got their ID cards issued due to this successful campaign.

Awareness Raising Meeting (At Hyderabad)

HomeNet Pakistan in collaboration with Choori Wielding Workers Union Region Hyderabad organized an Awareness Raising Meeting in the Press Club Auditorium on March 10, 2010. The Provincial General Secretary Taj Haider presided the meeting and Advisor to the Chief Minister Ms Sharmila Farooqi was the chief guest.

The bangle workers of Tandu Jam, Tandu Alahyar, Mir Pur Khas and Khuda Ki Basti demanded for increase in their wages, dowry funds, medical facilities, old age benefit, government holidays and all those benefits that a factory worker enjoys. They asked the government for the legislation of labor laws for the women workers to pass the bill in the national assembly for the labor rights. They told the participants that the contractors in Hyderabad pay more to the bangle workers than the other districts. The bangle workers of Tandu Jam, Tandu Alahyar, Mir Pur Khas and Khuda Ki Basti are paid for ‘Jurai’ 3 rupees per bag and for ‘Sadai’ 2 rupees per bag and a bag contains 365 bangles whereas the bangle workers of Hyderabad are paid rupees 5 and 3 for ‘Jurai’ and ‘Sadai’ per bag respectively excluding electricity and gas bills. So the bangle workers should be economically supported through the Benazir Income Support Program, Zakat Fund and Bait-ul-Maal. Kosar from Mir Pur Khas said that due to this awareness raising meeting she came to know that there was a Union of bangle workers in Hyderabad so they will fight for their rights. She said that there should be members from Tandu Alahyar and Mir Pur Khas in the Bangle Union and the union should start a movement for the increase in the wages of Bangle Workers. The joint secretary of the Bangle Union Nasreen Haneef said that the women workers are neglected in the Benazir Income Support Program and the other welfare schemes. She added that in these schemes either the support is given on the political basis or the non deserving are supported. The bangle workers should contest the elections for their rights, so that these women workers might raise their voice for their labor rights. Shaista Ilyas from PILER said that whatever the Bangle Union would do for the protection of the labor rights of these bangle workers, PILER would support that and it would also support the Bangle Union in the City Government Elections. Shaista Ilyas demanded from Sharmila Farooqi and Taj Haider to present a bill for the protection of the labor rights of home-based women workers. Ali Mir Shah from South Asia Partnership said when then the bangle union would go to the Mir Pur Khas and participate in the organizational matters, SAP would take care of the boarding and lodging of the participants moreover it would also support the union in the city government elections. Sharmila Farooqi, the Chief Guest of the meeting said the effective legislation is being carried out at federal and provincial level to protect the rights of those women, who are who are associated with handicrafts and other home-based industries including bangle industry. Various recommendations are under consideration to make effective legislation in this direction. She informed that the Bill regarding provision of technical training to those women who are home-based would be tabled soon both in National and Provincial Assembly. After the legislation these women would not only get maximum wages but also the welfare facilities including health and education for them and for children. She said that their government would provide maximum facilities and incentives to these working women. She added that PPPP always strived to give the due status to the women in all sectors of life. She further said that their government was fully awared about the injustices being done with the women and making all out efforts to address the grievances with the effective legislation. Senior Leader Pakistan Peoples Party Taj Haider said that the problems being faced by the home-based workers are genuine and termed it violation of their rights. However he said that the PPPP always protected the rights of the women of the country and time is not far when the working women would get their due status with all facilities and incentives.

The Purpose of the Meeting

The purpose of this meeting was to get the Home-Based workers of the bangle industry awared about their rights. This meeting gave the HBWs of Hyderabad, Mir Pur Khas, Tandu Alahyar and Tandu Jam a platform where they could know the difference of the wages of the bangle workers of different districts. These bangle workers could have the coordination and networking with one another and they could make combine efforts and struggles for their labor rights. They could know that there is a union of bangle workers that is struggling for their labor rights.

Another purpose of this meeting was that the government could realize the issues of bangle workers and that these bangle workers are deprived of labor rights. It was for the first time that the Advisor to the Chief Minister Sindh, Sharmila Farooqi, and the senior PPPP leader Taj Haider listened to the problems of the bangle workers and they realized also that the bangle workers are organizing themselves to pressurize the government for the legislation to protect the labor rights of the home-based workers.

The Effects of the Meeting

Sharmila Farooqi and Taj Haider said that were participating in the seminar of the HBWs for the first time. They further said that after attending the this meeting they came to know that more than 0.4 million women and children are working in bangle industry and more than 50,000 children are connected with different departments of bangle industry. They said that bangle Union should come to Karachi and talk about the issues of bangle workers. A resolution for the HBWs was also presented and that was unanimously accepted.

Awareness Raising Meeting (At Gujranwala)

The purpose of the meeting was to tell the HBWs of the district Gujranwala their labor rights, their exploitation by the middle person, to tell them how HomeNet Pakistan can help them, to tell they are not alone in the fight for the rights. They were told that HomeNet Pakistan arranged ID card campaigns in their districts so that they can get their ID cards issued and then the process of their social security cards would be started. Another purpose of this meeting was to know the problems that the HBWs of Gujranwala were facing and it was revealed that a few HBWs could not get their ID cards because they neither have their birth certificates nor their matriculation certificates were accepted in this regard. So it was big question that how they could be able to get their national identity cardsHNP asked its district partner to resolve the issue after consulting National Database and Registration Authority so that these HBWs can get their ID cards.

Afreen Fatima, the Program Officer of HomeNet Pakistan, told the participants that HomeNet Pakistan is a member of HomeNet South Asia, which consists of HomeNet Bangladesh, HomeNet India, HomeNet Nepal and HomeNet Sri Lanka. It is a network of organizations working for the recognition and labor rights of home based workers. HomeNet Pakistan was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1862 on November 2nd, 2005. It represents 500 organizations of home-based workers and currently has over 50,000 women members. HomeNet Pakistan is working for the Home-Based workers of Pakistan and is striving to provide them their basic rights. She added that when the HBWs are told about their share in the economy of Pakistan, it appears that it was news for them because they simply do not know how important their participation in the economy of Pakistan isThey do not have those facilities that a formal worker enjoys. HNP is doing advocacy for the HBWs that government should provide HBWs with those facilities as well, keeping in view their share in the growth of the economy. HNP is developing and strengthening the networking among the HBWs and organizations working with them and it facilitates their cross learning and cooperation to empower women. HNP arranges exhibitions and Melas for the HBWs to enhance their skills. Moreover any group of 10 to 15 HBWs can join HNP because HomeNet Pakistan is an inclusive organization and it is working for Home-Based Workers.

Ume Laila Azhar, the Executive Director of HomeNet Pakistan, said that the Home-Based Workers not only add their fuel as an earning hand for their family but also do their hold chores to keep the home business running. Now HNP is involving the government in this issue. The labor of informal sector is getting nothing from the government… not even the basic necessity of the social security so the HBWs who have the greater share in the economy of Pakistan are on the top of the list of deprived persons. She added that we want from the government to recognize the Home-Based Workers and also count their existence in the coming census so that they can get benefit of that. She said to the participants that we are to do a lot of work in this regard and there are a bundle of issues need to be addressed. When we work with the organizations, we come to the number of HBWs working with them. There is no such policy that deals with the issues of HBWs and that is concerned about the rights of HBWs. The 70% of the informal workers having a greater contribution to the informal economy of the country are deprived of the basic needs. The middle person is playing a very negative role. He/her behavior is exploitative because either the HBWs are totally dependent on him/her or they simply do not know that the market value of the products they produce. HNP organizes many exhibitions and melas of the products of HBWs where they can sell their products and the benefit of the sale directly goes to the HBWs. HNP formed a National Policy and presented it before the government. Now, the government will respond to it effectively if the pressure will be built from this level. HomeNet Pakistan wants that Home-Based Workers should have social security cards. And there should be no hindrance in it if they do not belong to any organization. Any group of 10 to 15 HBWs should get their social security cards so that those issues related to social security might be addressed. HomeNet Pakistan wants to work with HBWs and train them.

She told about the ILO C177 convention that it is the convention for the right of labors. It promises to give those basic rights like social security, equal working hours for both formal and informal workers, health etc. to the HBWs from which they are still deprived. She said that it is our responsibility that we should sensitize the government that it should ratify ILO C177. If the government ratifies this law the HBWs will get their basic labor rights.

During the meeting the home-based workers and the members shared several problems like the major issue that the Home-Based Workers were facing was that they did not have their birth certificates, so they could not get their ID Cards. So it was a great problem for them. The representative from the Social Welfare Foundation shared his problem that the HBWs do not tell about their issues openly. So it becomes very difficult to work for them. The role of the middle person is very exploitative. He/she does not pay for the first order usually. The HBWs get their first payment after the accomplishment of the second order.