KARACHI - More than 12 million home-based workers, 80 percent of them women, in Pakistan do not have any legal identity as their status is not defined in the local labour laws; however, the government is yet to announce formal home-based policy to give legal cover and protection to these hapless workers, said the speakers at a protest demo here on Thursday.

The demo was arranged here before the Karachi Press Club (KPC) by the Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), on the occasion of the South Asian home-based workers' day.

The speakers said the millions of workers have been awaiting signature of competent authority on the home-based policy for last three years. They said once this policy is signed and announced the home-based workers would get the legal status and identity of worker as per labor laws and enjoy benefits and perks under these laws. They demanded to announce the policy without further delay, and register all home-based workers with the social security institutions.

They said the day of October 20 is observed as the home-based workers day in whole South Asia. On October 20, 2000, the representatives of the governments of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, as well as, the representatives of the UN agencies related to women and workers, and local social and welfare organizations have met in Kathmandu in a moot arranged by the UN Women and jointly passed a Kathmandu Declaration, which suggested that the every country of the South Asia will make a national home-based workers policy for safeguarding the interests of more than 55million home-based workers and improve their working and living conditions.

The government would take steps to give the rights of union making to these workers, besides social security, health and safety, minimum wages, maternity facilities, vocational training, literacy and including their data in government statistics. It was also suggested that the governments would establish a fund on national level to compensate these workers and their families in case of death, disability, illness and joblessness. Moreover, it was suggested to ensure easy access to the products and handicrafts made by these workers to market.

They demanded that the cabinets of Sindh and Punjab should immediately approve their respective home-based policies. The government of Pakistan should ratify the Homework Convention C177 of the ILO and start legislation in all provinces as per the convention. The international principle of equal wages for equal jobs should be respected and applied. The federal and provincial governments should include the representative federation of the home-based workers in the tripartite consultation process regarding the labor laws.  The government should immediately announce holding the tripartite conference.

Those spoke the demo included central general secretary of HBWWF Zahra Khan, United Home-based Workers Union leader Saira Feroze, Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation, Mushtaq Ali Shan of National Trade Union Federation, Ruqia Haneef, Zahida Mukhtar, Parveen Bano, Jameela Abdul Latif, Shamshad and others.