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.