Ratification of ILO domestic workers convention demanded

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KARACHI, July 19, 2011 : Trade union leaders and representatives of civil society on Tuesday demanded that the Sindh government make industrial relations laws in conformity with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and ratify the ILO Convention 189: Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
Since the labour subject had been transferred to provinces under the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, the Sindh government should ensure that workers in all sectors, including those associated with the agriculture and informal sectors as well as those hired on a contract basis, had equal rights, they said, while speaking at a consultative meeting on ILO’s Convention on Domestic Workers and proposed Sindh Industrial Relations Act 2011, organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) at the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) House.
The leaders decried that the government had reportedly increased its influence and powers of employers in the proposed Sindh IRA-2011. In Punjab, they said, workers’ trade union rights had been usurped in the industrial relations law.
Piler Executive Director Karamat Ali said that at the ILO’s 100th annual conference, the Pakistan government had promised that it would share the proposed IRA of the provinces with the ILO. He said the government had also informed the participants of the conference that the labour subject had been transferred to provinces under the 18th Amendment.
He mentioned that it was also written in the constitution that any law which was in violation of the fundamental rights was actually not the law and it must be changed.
The Piler official said that ILO had ensured that a tripartite process was initiated under which employers, employees and the government must meet every year to discuss any proposed change in the labour laws. He said a standing labour committee must be formed at the annual tripartite meeting and that the committee must discuss and approve the draft laws, which could be referred to parliament for legislation.
Ms Ali said this year he attended the ILO meeting in Geneva as an adviser to representatives of workers. He said the most significant development in the meeting was adoption of the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers (2011). He said representatives of employers, employees and the government of Pakistan also adopted the convention.
According to him, the adoption of the convention on domestic workers is a milestone. He said there were between 53 million and 100 million domestic workers worldwide under the realm of labour standards. “However, it is hard to establish the number of domestic workers in the country, as no serious study has ever been undertaken on domestic workers in Pakistan,” he said. According to very rough figures that need to be updated, a 2005 study by the Centre for Research Poverty Reduction and Income Distribution estimated 264,000 child domestic workers alone in Pakistan.
Mr Ali said the convention made it binding on member states to ensure minimum wage, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, safe and healthy working environment for domestic workers, weekly rest, social security coverage (including maternity coverage) at the level of regular workers, and effective access to courts.
He urged the government to ratify the convention without delay and make necessary legislation for the implementation of the convention.
He also appealed to those who employed domestic workers to start implementing the rights of domestic workers by providing minimum wages, which were Rs7,000 a month and Rs34 an hour at present, and contributing to social security through registration with the EOBI and related institutions.
He also urged the government to publicise the provisions of the convention on domestic workers.
Earlier Qamarul Hassan of the IUF Pakistan briefed the meeting about the Sindh government’s consultation on the proposed Industrial Relations Act, 2011.
The trade union representatives also adopted a resolution, condemning the murder of PIA union leader.
Those who spoke on the occasion included Noor Mohammad of the Pakistan Workers Confederation, Aziz Abbasi of the Watan Dost Mazdoor Federation, Mazoor Badhudin of the People’s Bureau, Zeenia Shaukat, Comrade Rehan and others.

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