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Women rights bodies seek labour laws’ upgradation

* Call for provision of social security, healthcare facilities to female workers
* Want action against factories not paying salaries

By Hussain Kashif

LAHORE: Different organisations working for women rights have proposed the government to simplify and consolidate all existing labour laws into five core laws, namely industrial relations, employment, health, human resource development and social security.

Representatives of the Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan (MLFP), Women Workers Union (WWU) and Home Network Pakistan (HNP) along with the former parliamentarian Begum Mehnaz Rafi made the proposal in a joint press conference held at the Lahore Press Club on Sunday. They urged the government to make efforts for the recognition of informal female labour, for protecting their rights and giving them treatment equal to that of the formal labour class in the country.

Mehnaz, while talking about the political rights of female workers, claimed that around 8.2 million female workers across the country had been registered by the non-governmental organisations as their members, however, more than 15 million were still doing informal jobs at a domestic level.

She urged the government to make efforts to identify all such informal, home-based female workers and provide them with social security, healthcare and other related facilities, without any gender discrimination.

Separately, HNP’s Executive Director, Ume-Laila Azhar, demanded the government to adopt the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention C177 for the home-based workers.

She also urged the government to introduce labour judicial system for the working class since the position of the National Industrial Relations Commissions (NIRC) has become ambiguous after the addition of the 18 Amendment in the country’s constitution, according to which the Labour Department has come under the provincial government.

Ume-Laila said that the government should protect labour contracts, should introduce a system of licensing for contractors and set up a tripartite council to monitor the health and safety issues of the home-based female workers.

WWU General Secretary, Shahina Kausar, urged the provincial government to permit the Labour Department to start investigations in factories and industries that were not paying salaries to its workers as fixed by the government.

Kausar, while criticising the Punjab Industrial Relations Act-2010, said that it did not allow factory workers to form a union if their number was less than 50, consequently, depriving the employees from constituting a union, which could protect their rights.

She also demanded the government to implement the Protection Against Sexual Harassment for Women at Workplace Act-2010 and PCP section 509 to protect the informal and formal female employees without any delay. She also urged to register all the home-based workers at national level.

While answering a question about restrictions on provincial governments regarding implementation of the ILO conventions, which were signed at the federal level, the MLFP General Secretary Hanif Ramay said the government was signatory of these conventions but there was no restriction on any provincial government to follow it, so there was a fear that the provincial government would not implement the ILO rules and regulations, which could create problems for the country at the international level.

Source: Daily Times

Date:3/7/2011

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