30 Aug 2019 Ferado

Sindh cabinet approves Women Agricultural Workers draft bill

KARACHI: The Sindh Cabinet approved on Saturday the ‘Sindh Women Agricultural Workers draft Bill 2019’ under which female workers in agriculture, livestock, fisheries or other agro-based work would be given the rights and benefits which are given to workers in the industrial sector. With this law, Sindh would be the first province to have taken such a decision in South Asia.

The cabinet meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah at the New Sindh Secretariat and was attended by ministers, advisers and special assistants to the CM. The meeting discussed 12 items on the agenda.

Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani presented the Sindh Women Agriculture Workers bill. While briefing the cabinet on the salient features of the bill, Ghani informed that over three quarters of female labourers in the country were employed in the agriculture sector. “Over half of these women are reported as unpaid family helpers,” said the CM while crediting the bill to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who he claimed had stressed on the need for supporting female agriculture workers.

Women University seeks expansion

The bill, which would soon be moved in Sindh Assembly for legislation, proposed that female agriculture workers receive pay in cash or in kind for any kind of agriculture work, whether undertaken individually or as part of a family unit, on land and livestock belonging to her own family or someone else. The proposed bill states that the pay for the female labourers would be equal to the pay received by male labourers for the same work.

Besides, the bill specifies, the pay for the female agriculture worker shall not be less than the minimum wage fixed by the government from time to time and the work day shall not exceed eight working hours and shall not commence until one hour after day break. The worker shall also be entitled to 90 days of maternity leave.

The proposed law would give the female worker the right to access government agricultural, livestock, fisheries and other services, credit, social security, subsidies and asset transfers in her own individual right or in association with other female agricultural workers. A female worker would also be entitled to receive a written contract of employment if she so demands. The law would also give the woman the rights of collective bargaining, social welfare including child health, community development, economic profit and access to publicly supplied goods and services.

The government would register the female agriculture workers, through the labour department, at every union council level. The registered labourers would be given the Benazir Card and holders would be able to make their groups or association.

The bill added that the Sindh government would set up Benazir Women’s Support Organisation (BWSO) under the labour department with an Empowerment Fund to provide technical and financial assistance to women workers. The organisation would register them, issue cards and maintain a data base for their support.

Food fortification

The food department presented the ‘Sindh Food Fortification Bill 2019’ in the cabinet. Pakistan is noted to be suffering from malnutrition and is rated to have the worst rate of malnutrition.

According to the National Nutrition Survey 2018, micronutrients deficiency is the major contributing factor. Half of the women and children population is far below the acceptable levels of nutrients. Iron, folic acid, iodine, zinc, vitamins A and B deficiencies are common and poor nutrition in childhood effects immunity, growth and cognitive development.

The food department briefed the cabinet that food fortification pertains to the addition of key vitamins and minerals for example iron, folic acid, zink, vitamin B-12, iodine, vitamins A and D staple foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Food fortification provides a nutritional benefit without requiring consumers to change eating habits or purchasing patterns. Wheat flour fortification with iron, folic acid, zink and vitamin B-12 would cost 25 paisa per kilogramme or Rs5 per 20kg bags.

The cabinet approved the mandatory legislation for the mechanism for micronutrients, registration of manufacturer and importer of these foods, warranties, quality assurance, packaging, labeling, transportation, storage and display.

The Sindh Food Authority would have sufficient powers to enforce the implementation of this law. The cabinet approved the proposed law and directed the food department to present a detailed draft bill in the next cabinet meeting.

Health dept

Meanwhile, the health department presented the case of 83 employees, including the faculty of Khairpur Medical College for regularisation.

Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that out of 183 employees, 55 were professors, associate professors and lecturers. She recommended the regularisation of these employees.

The cabinet also approved the draft for Sindh Teaching Hospitals (Establishment of Management Board) Act-2019. The proposed law would apply to all teaching hospitals which would operate through a management board. The vice chancellor or principal of the medical college would be the chairperson of the board.

The board would have the power to approve the development and recurring budgets of the respective teaching hospital, prepare detailed regulations and procedures for financial management. The board would also evaluate, examine and approve annual and periodic reports of teaching hospitals. It would also have the authority to assess and review charges for admission and clinical and procedural services and facilities. According to the proposed, fund would be established under the title of ‘Teaching Hospital Management Board Fund’ which would be utilised by the board.

Girls demand sports grounds

Besides, the health department informed the cabinet that Dr Yasmin Kharal, the In-Charge of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Institute of Trauma Centre in Karachi, has retired. She may be appointed as the executive director, they informed the cabinet which discussed her qualifications and re-employment issue and then authorised Dr Pechuho to appoint any Grade BS-20 doctor as the in-charge of the Trauma Centre. The cabinet asked her to then appoint a full time executive director for the centre through proper procedure.

Katchi Abadis Authority

The cabinet also approved a Rs477.327 million budget for the Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority for year 2018-19 and the budget of Rs464.237 million for year 2017-18. The cabinet constituted a committee, under Forest Minister Nasir Shah, Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu, the mines and mineral minister and the Adviser to CM Barrister Murtaza Wahab, to frame the Sustainable Forest Management Policy 2019.

30 Aug 2019 Ferado

Nepal and Malaysia closer to agreement to resume sending workers from Nepal

KATHMANDU, Aug 30: Nepal and Malaysia have reached closer to an agreement to resume sending workers from Nepal after a hiatus of some 14 months.

A seven-member Nepali delegation from the Ministry of Labor is visiting Kuala Lampur for negotiation scheduled for September 10-11 after the Malaysian authorities positively responded to Nepal’s demand concerning medical centers where prospective workers from Nepal undergo health checkup prior to their departure.

A note verbale sent by the Embassy of Malaysia in Kathmandu to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said they would consider all 122 medical centers proposed by the Nepal government to perform BMS screening process for recruitment to Malaysia “in the future as long as they fulfill the criteria and requirements set by the Malaysian government.”

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, Narayan Prasad Regmi said they are in favor of resuming the process to send workers to Malaysia. “The rest of the things will be clear once we hold negotiation with the Malaysian side,” he said.

The Malaysian government has recognized only 36 of the total 122 medical centers proposed by Nepal to conduct any such test now. “… the 36 medical centers will continue to perform the BMS screening process for recruitment to Malaysia on the basis that these medical centers have been equipped with BMS; have been audited annually by the Government of Malaysia through the Embassy of Malaysia and Bestinet Sdn Bhd and have been certified by the Ministry of Health of Nepal and Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security of Nepal to conduct medication examination on Nepali going abroad for work,” said the Note Verbale.

The Malaysian side has expressed hope that the new arrangement would pave the way for resuming the process to send workers from Nepal to Malaysia. “The Government of Malaysia is of the view that the decision will ensure no further delay to the resumption of recruitment process to Malaysia that continue to be suspended by the Government of Nepal even after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Malaysia and the Government of Nepal on the Recruitment, Employment and Repatriation of Workers on 29 October 2018,” the note further said.

Malaysia is one of the largest labor destination countries for Nepal, with about 1.1 Nepali workers currently working there. Around 130,000 Nepali workers go to Malaysia for work each year.

30 Aug 2019 Ferado

Thousands of Papuans occupy governor’s office after rioting

Thousands of Papuans in Indonesia are occupying the governor’s office, a protest organiser says, after several government buildings were torched in the provincial capital Jayapura on Thursday.

Jayapura burning after protestors torched the Papuan provincial capital and other buildings, 29 August 2019Jayapura burning after protestors torched the Papuan provincial capital and other buildings, 29 August 2019 Photo: Supplied
Security forces struggling to maintain stability during widespread protests across Papua – the biggest in decades in the region – have been boosted by hundreds of extra security forces flown in overnight. But protestors and Papuan leaders ahve said they were worried the occupation could end in bloodshed.

The unrest in Jayapura, which involved building fronts being smashed and the parliament and other government complexes set ablaze, is the latest in nearly two weeks of demonstrations that have rocked Papua.

Although protestors are focused on countering anti-Papuan racism by other Indonesians, they have also included calls for an independence referendum. The country’s top security minister has rejected the latter.

Witnesses and police said police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors on Thursday, according to one protestor and the Papuan online news outlet Tabloid Jubi. Around 5000 protestors remained camped outside Papua governor Lukas Enembe’s office on Friday, said Victor Yeimo, a spokesperson for the pro-independence West Papua National Committee.

“This is our land and we are not monkeys,” said Rosa Moiwend, a Papuan activist in Jayapura. Outrage at the labelling of Papuans as “monkeys” by some Indonesians has featured widely in protest symbolism.

The West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda. West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda has called for UN intervention in Papua to avoid what he said could “turn into a bloodbath”. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana
Indonesia has struggled to contain protests which have galvanised huge numbers of Papuans and this week have quickly lapsed into violent rioting.

Six-hundred soldiers arrived in Jayapura on Thursday night, state media reported.

Activists said security forces had been heavy-handed and a heightened presence would only exacerbate discontent among Papuans.

The government has blocked internet across Papua for the past week in what it claims is a necessary anti-disinformation measure. Some phone lines have been disrupted too, including in Deiyai where at least two protestors and a soldier died in a clash on Wednesday.

Activists claim at least six protestors were shot dead by security forces, which the government has refuted.

“This is really something new,” said Hipolitus Wangge, an Indonesian researcher at the Marthinus Academy in Jakarta.

“Over 57 years, there is no such protest like this.”

He added that the protest movement had highlighted the government’s inability to address the concerns of Papuans.

Police have slapped travel bans on seven people who hurled racist insults at Papuan students earlier this month in the Javanese city of Surabaya, an incident viewed as the catalyst for the protests.

Protestors in Papua’s capital Jayapura take to the streets to demonstrate, 30 August 2019Protestors in Papua’s capital Jayapura take to the streets to demonstrate, 30 August 2019 Photo: Mona
President Joko Widodo appealed for calm and urged protestors to refrain from damaging public facilities, the state-news agency Antara reported.

“Let us keep Papua as a peaceful region, peaceful land.”

In a statement on Friday, the West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda called for international intervention, including from the UN, to avoid what he said could “turn into a bloodbath”.

“We cannot allow another Santa Cruz massacre to take place in West Papua,” he said in reference to the 1991 incident in occupied East Timor, where Indonesian soldiers shot dead at least 250 pro-independence demonstrators.

30 Aug 2019 Ferado

Bangladesh: 701 garment workers fired after Eid

701 workers have been laid off without any prior information at SF Denim Apparels in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as they came back after the Eid holiday.

As workers returned to the factory after Eid vacation on 18 August, SF Denim Apparels cited ‘work order shortage’ and announced one of the largest terminations in Bangladeshi garment factories in recent times.

At least half of the 701 workers just fired wanted to form a trade union under the leadership of IndustriALL affiliate Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF).

According to unions, SF Denim Apparels has consistently been obstructing efforts to organize and form a union.

In response to efforts to form a union in 2018 the company fired more than a hundred workers. 38 of the workers launched court cases against the employer, which are still ongoing.

The practice is continuing; in early August, days before the Eid vacation, five workers involved in union organizing were laid off.

Nazma Akter, IndustriALL Executive Committee member and SGSF president says:

“We are deeply concerned over the mass layoffs; the workers are obviously targeted over their involvement in union activities. To make matters worse, more than 30 of the terminated workers are pregnant and will now not receive any maternity benefits. We demand that SF Denim Apparels reinstate all the fired workers.”

SGSF has contacted brands that source from SF Denim, like C&A, H&M and Benetton, seeking their intervention to reinstate the terminated workers, but the union has yet to receive a response from them.

30 Aug 2019 Ferado

IndustriALL affiliates in Asia-Pacific to mobilize for fairer trade

IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region will hold a day of action on 30 August to raise concerns about the impact on workers and society of a new generation of trade agreements that are currently being negotiated behind closed doors.

Trade unions are demanding that free trade agreements should benefit all and that unions are consulted in the negotiations. The action is timed to coincide with the L20 or Labour 20 – a meeting of trade union leaders from the G20 nations, that is taking place in Tokyo, Japan on 29 and 30 August.

The new generation of comprehensive free trade agreements, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which demands deeper liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region, go beyond mere tariff reductions, affecting almost every aspect of a nation’s economy. They have serious implications for governments’ ability to use policy tools according to their developmental needs, and in many ways, represent a corporate trade agenda that can negatively affect workers’ rights.

The RCEP negotiations, which involve 16 countries and half of the world’s population, are at an advanced stage and due to be concluded by the end of the year.

Actions of IndustriALL’s affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region are guided by the ten guiding principles for trade union intervention in policy forums and processes, which was adopted by the IndustriALL Executive Committee.

Governments must return to multilateralism, instead of pursuing bilateral or regional trade agreements
Trade agreements must include enforceable labour rights and reference ILO conventions
Trade negotiations must be transparent and inclusive
Governments must retain control and be able to set industrial policy
Say no to Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions, which allow companies to sue countries if they pass laws that restrict their profits
Governments must be able to regulate the digital economy and play a role in policy-making for digital infrastructure
Intellectual property rights must not hinder governments’ efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Limitations on medicines must be removed from trade agreements
Countries must able to use rule-based trade remedies to defend local industries against unfair trade
Public procurement must remain as a government industrial policy tool
Public services must be excluded from legally-binding commitments under trade agreements
IndustriALL affiliates will hold rallies, demonstrations and workshops to highlight their demands on 30 August.

The L20, which is convened by the International Trade Union Confederation and the OECD, is taking place ahead of the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting in Matsuyama, Japan on 1 and 2 September.