Vol. 5 Num 871 Thu. November 09, 2006  

Home-based workers seek nat'l wage policy

Matia Banu is a housewife. She has opted for working as a home-based worker to earn some extra money for her family. Making various types of cakes is her job, a sub-contractual one for which she has been assigned by a city super chain shop. But Matia has been unhappy over the years as she is denied a price fair proportionately with her hard labour and time.

"I work at home during my leisure time, though. Whatever the amount I get as wage is considered as an extra income. But it's not enough because the job is laborious and time-consuming as well," Matia grumbles.

There are thousands of Matias here and there. These home-based workers are often denied fair wages for jobs due to lack of a national wage policy recognising such workers' contribution to the country's economy.

The observation came yesterday at a workshop on Minimum Wages for Home-based Workers at the Swanirbhar Bangladesh auditorium in Dhaka.

Bangladesh Women Home-workers Association (BWHA) and Homenet Bangladesh in association with United Nations Development Fund for Women organised the workshop.

Speaking on the occasion, Dilruba Anguri, general secretary of BWHA, quoting the Home Work Convention 1996 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said a person who produces different components of a product or a whole product in his own home for money on a contract is regarded as home worker.

Referring to the Clause 3 in the ILO Convention that laid emphasis on formulation and implementation of national policies for development of the home workers, Dilruba lamented that no government paid any heed to the matter in the last 10 years.

"The need for a national wage policy is urgent because it would help mitigate the deprivation of the home workers, many of whom produce exportable quality goods," she observed.

She demanded the government should ratify the ILO Home Work Convention 1996 to protect the home-based industry.

Touhidur Rahman Rony, president of the Garment Industry Workers Federation, announced at the workshop that a series of programmes would be chalked out to press home a wage security for the home-based workers.

He also made a clarion call to organise dialogues with small entrepreneurs, including Grammen Bank and Aarong, to fix a minimum wage for the home-based workers.

Addressing as the chief guest, Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), asked for ensuring social security, healthcare and facilities for the home-based workers.

He also suggested that adequate opportunities be made for the home workers to participate in different exhibitions and fairs, which might directly help them to get fair prices of their products.

Representatives from different organisations in Gazipur, Tangail, Shirajganj, Barisal, Khulna, Chuadanga and other areas of the country took part in the workshop.

They demanded fixing a category of the home-based works at first before raising the issue of minimum wages.

They also called for forming provident fund for the home-based workers immediately as fixing a minimum wage is a long process.

Badruddoza Nizam, general secretary of Garment Tailors Workers League, Selim Reza, coordinator of Homenet Bangladesh, and Abdul Mukit Khan, president of International Free Trade Union Congress, also spoke on the occasion.