LAHORE: A new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) says more than 21 million people across Asia-Pacific, with 80 percent of women, are employed as domestic workers, said speakers at a press conference on Friday.
A joint press briefing in this regard was organised by HomeNet Pakistan, Punjab Child Rights Movement (CRM) and Labour Trade unions here on Friday at a local hotel.
Executive Director HomeNet Pakistan Ume Laila Azhar, political and social activist Mehnaz Rafi, Child Rights Movement Punjab spokesperson Iftikhar Mubarak, Chairman Mutihda Labour Federation Chaudhary Yaqoob, President Punjab Pakistan Workers Federation Chaudhary Naseem Iqbal and Ch Shaukat form Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz were present on occasion.
The speakers demanded data collection for situational analysis of domestic workers in Pakistan , ratification of ILO C 189 , registration of domestic workers, inclusion of domestic work as work category in the labour force survey , regulation of DWs under labour laws, access of social protection and minimum wages to the DWs and other informal sector workers , inclusion of the informal sector representative in the tripartite mechanism, amendments in the labour and child labour inspection mechanism ensuring adherence to the existing laws child protection laws and Punjab Employment of Children (Amendment) Act 2011.
Executive Director HomeNet Pakistan Ume Laila Azhar said that 21.5 million (41 percent) domestic workers are in Asia Pacific and 19.6 million (37 percent) in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ume Laila said that in Asia-Pacific one in 13 (7.8 percent) of all women with a waged job were domestic workers in 2010. Although Asia-Pacific has more domestic workers than any other part of the world, the region lags behind other regions in guaranteeing domestic workers the basic work-related rights and protections that other workers have, in particular related to working time, minimum wages and maternity protection. Only domestic workers in the Middle East (many of whom are migrants from Asia) have weaker legal entitlements.
She said that according to report by ILO workers across the world, estimates that 52.6 million people worldwide – more than four out of five of them women – are employed as domestic workers. She informed that according to the report only 3.0 percent of Asia’s domestic workers are entitled to a weekly day of rest, whereas globally more than half of domestic workers have this right. In addition, only one percent of domestic workers in Asia-Pacific have statutory limits to their normal maximum weekly working hours; by contrast, more than three-quarters of their counterparts in Latin America enjoy such protection.
Around 12 percent of domestic workers in Asia-Pacific are covered by statutory minimum wage legislation. Only the Middle East has lower coverage. In all other regions of the world more than six out of seven domestic workers can expect to be paid at least the minimum wage, she added.
Mehnaz Rafi said that the violence on women over all in Pakistan was increasing and with regard to the domestic workers it had increased for last few years. The domestic workers are a force of informal labour in Pakistan. She said that the need of the time was that government should ratify ILO convention C 189 on domestic workers and enact laws in line with the convention to protect domestic labours of Pakistan.
Iftikhar Mubarak said that civil society was unable to understand that why Government of Punjab was hesitating to put a ban on child domestic workers (CDWs) despite several brutal deaths of child labourers
He further added that since January 2010 to December 2013, 52 cases of tortures on CDWs were reported including 24 deaths and 85 percent cases are from Punjab. In 2010, 12 cases of torture on CDWs were reported including seven deaths; in 2011, 10 cases of torture on CDWs were reported, of which six children were dead; and in 2012, eight cases including three deaths were reported.
He added that in the light of the UNCRC and its Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, ILO’s Conventions 182 and the Constitution of Pakistan, the federal and provincial governments should immediately declare CDW a form of slavery and include it in the list of worst form of child labour and should immediately be banned across the country under the list of banned occupation given in the Punjab Employment of Children (Amendment) Act 2011.
Chaudhary Yaqoob said the workers and trade unionist of Pakistan condemned the torture inflicted on women domestic workers and children. He said that MLF and Pakistan workers confederation demand the ratification of ILO’s C 189 with immediate actions.
Chaudhary Naseem Iqbal said that PWF fully support the demand of ratification of C 189 and demand domestic works laws to be in place in Pakistan. He said that government should take employment of the children under 14 very seriously and should in place stringent mechanism for check and balances and inception of child labour. Pakistan is a signatory to many international conventions on labour, women and children. These international standards aim to ensure decent working conditions and pay for workers including domestic workers worldwide.