Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Urdu Web Newspaper Live-TV(UK) Live-TV(PK)
Urdu Web Newspaper
Live-TV(UK) Live-TV(PK)
Hot Topics

COVID-19 in Pakistan: Overall informal workforce suffered but DWs hitted the most

COVID-19 in Pakistan: Overall informal workforce suffered but DWs hitted the most
June 15, 2021

Senior Corespondant (Kashif Shamim Siddiqui) - Domestic workers (DWs) are the back bone of the economy and their contribution to the economy must be recognized. Being major part of the women work force, they should be counted as workers. HomeNet Pakistan issued a press statement acknowledging the DWs legislation enacted in province of Punjab.

According to the DWs law, adopted by the Punjab government on January 25, 2019, a registered Domestic Worker will be entitled to get prescribed rate of wages, free medical care of himself and dependents through Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) hospitalization, injury benefits, disablement pension and survivor’s pension under PESSI laws, wages during leave or holidays and over time, maternity benefits equivalent to six week wages.

During the passage of more than a year the full implementation of the law in its true spirit has not been seen. So far around 30000 DWs have been registered by the Punjab government but none of them have received any social security, protection benefits and notified minimum wages. 85 percent of the domestic work force in Pakistan are women and they go unprotected. Other provinces need to adopt laws for DWs. One registered domestic workers would add on to the female labour force participation of the provinces.

Domestic workers informed HomeNet Pakistan that they have lost jobs due to COVID 19. The employers have simply asked them to stay at home and they have no work. Their monthly income have declined and they are staying at home and doing petty work for nearby household for minimum amount. The employers are not letting them in due to fear of Corona.

HomeNet Pakistan notes that the DWs are contributing in the economy of the country but remains unprotected unregulated despite of the provincial law. The GoP needs to expedite the process for ensuring its implementation and allocating budget for its implementation mechanism in ICT and Punjab where the legislation already exists . In absence of any official compliant mechanisms the reported exploitation and violence remains unnoticed.

The overall informal economy have suffered during the COVID and among them DWs are most vulnerable. In absence of any plan of action and mechanism for workers protection overall, the workers are suffering and DWs become more vulnerable because in the absence of implementation mechanism the DWs are not eligible to social protection. They are not been enrolled in EHASS due to data issues . The COVID has exposed the overall government capacity to address any disaster situation specifically in terms of workers. Laws would not be sufficient , if there are no local level implementation mechanism in place. More over the absence of effective domestic workers unions does not allow them to go for collective bargaining on minimum wages and stand up for reclaiming their rights.

Another important issue of DWs is the child domestic labour and  child domestic abuse which is on rise the DWs legislations across country should specify it clearly that by stating any labour under 18 years of age should be unlawful.“Mostly mothers are working and they bring their daughters along; fathers are unemployed,” explains Ume Laila Azhar, Executive Director of HomeNet Pakistan, a network of organizations formed to raise awareness about the working conditions of home-based female workers. “They work to earn money so that they can feed their children, send boys to school and girls to madrassahs,” Ume Laila added.

Discussing the Impact on women in Informal Economy and particularly DWs, in a community meeting with domestic worker groups, women workers raised concerns that since majority of the Christians are working as domestic workers, so they are facing discrimination which goes unchecked. There are no effective unions of DWs so organizing and awareness raising should be done at grass root level by the CSO. There is need to collaborate with the provincial  and national tripartite process to share the recommendations and build collective movement for DWs for ensuring their inclusion. The workers recommended to have data base of DWs under one window linking them with social security benefits and unemployment benefits. The government should set up a separate directorate of informal economy under the Labour department to address the implementation issues of the legislation for informal workers. Lastly, Pakistan should ratify ILO C189 and CSO should build their advocacy around the convention to lobby with appropriate forums.