Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from sacw.net | @sacw
Home > South Asia Labour Activists Library > Pakistan: Important legislation on Domestic Workers Rights Tabled [but (...)

Pakistan: Important legislation on Domestic Workers Rights Tabled [but would only apply to the federal capital]

23 January 2014

print version of this article print version
Bill Tabled in Senate to Protect Domestic Servants
Text of Official Press Release - Senate of Pakistan

Related Media Commentary

The Express Tribune (Pakistan), 22 January 2014

Editorial

Workers rights

An important piece of legislation was passed in the Senate on January 20th, one that has the potential for far reaching effect if it is ever translated into affirmative action. The Domestic Workers (Employment Rights) Act 2013 is long overdue, and was, in part, the product of some determined prodding by the United Nations that Pakistan adopt a child protection policy. It is envisaged that the passing of the bill will lead to a ratification of Convention 189 of the International Labour Organisation which relates to the protection of domestic workers. All of which is entirely laudable, but the downside is that the bill only applies to the federal capital and there do not appear to be any moves by the provinces to bring a similar law to the statute books.

Pakistan has around 8.5 million informal domestic workers in the country, the vast majority of them undocumented. Small children, many under 10-year-old and working as ‘maids’ are seen countrywide caring for infants. Untold numbers toil in houses where they are not infrequently the subject of appalling abuses and there is a steady trickle of domestic workers, usually female, that are killed by their employers. The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) says that between April 2010 and December 2013, 16 children had died in this manner. The new bill is thus to be warmly welcomed, but it is going to be in its implementation that its efficacy will be judged. Elements of the bill challenge conventional and traditional norms of the employment of children, particularly that it gives employment rights to many who had none previously. No child under 14 shall be employed; and women will have an entitlement to maternity leave.

To fully implement the bill in letter and in spirit is going to be a mammoth task and will require considerable resources, both human and fiscal. This is a step in the right direction of bringing Pakistan into closer alignment with international standards relative to labour legislation. The challenge now is enforcement; otherwise this will be just another piece of worthless paper.

Bill Tabled in Senate to Protect Domestic Servants
Text of Official Press Release - Senate of Pakistan

[SEE ALSO:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/593781/can-servants-become-domestic-workers/

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/20666/dear-elites-your-servants-have-rights-treat-them-like-humans/

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/maid-story/