Lahore based Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) arranged a convention “Worker, Not Servant!” in connection with International Domestic Workers Day Wednesday in Lahore attended by many women domestic workers joined the event.
Bushra Khaliq Executive Director WISE, said women domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in respect of working conditions, terms of employment and to other abuses of human rights. They are forced to face issues like long and unlimited working hours, violence, and multiple forms of abuse at work, forced/child labour, lack of minimum wage, labour inspection and law enforcement.
She said it envisages the provisions for protecting the rights of the domestic workers, regulating their terms of employment, working conditions of service and provision of social protection and welfare. It was a long-standing demand of the domestic workers to recognize them as workers.
Therefore, it is appreciable on the part of govt. to safeguard the rights of these workers, as majority of them belong to the marginalized communities.
It has been observed that the hard labour of such workers is exploited by their owners. The barely minimum wages do not commensurate with their work output.
“Their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing also lack adequate attention. Although data of the Domestic workers is being collected but none of them is registered with PESSI or issued social security card so far. Rules of business for the effective implementation of the Domestic Workers law needs to be framed at earliest to enable the departments concerned to applicable the law in letter and spirit, she demanded,” she added.
Mohammad Shahid, from labour department said the Punjab govt. took the initiative to recognise the domestic workers and provided them rights same as provided to industrial workers under labour laws, which must be appreciated. These workers can only be able to get benefits of this law if they are registered and linked with social protection program per law. He emphasized on the need to work for changing of mind set of the employers, who rarely treat these workers as human beings.
Speakers said that Pakistan should ratify ILO Convention 189 and the provincial govt and issue social security cards to domestic workers per requirement of implementation of Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 in letter and spirit. Women domestic workers face multiple problems including low wages.
The rampant and illegal practice of child domestic work is an ugly form of modern slavery, which needs to abolish. A public awareness campaign regarding the domestic workers law and their rights is prerequisite as majority of workers and employers are not aware of this law.
Expressing their views, the domestic workers said their work is generally undervalued, invisible and is mainly carried out by women and girls, many of whom belong to disadvantaged communities. They demanded of the govt. to register them, issue them social security cards, and ensure implementation of minimum wages.