Govt working to include informal workers in mainstream: Sania Nishtar

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar said that a recommendatory report to bring informal sector workers into the mainstream is in its final stages and will be released soon.

Dr Nishtar chaired the 11th consultative meeting with a labor expert group to discuss recommendations for the welfare of workers in the informal sector and social security.

Under the umbrella of the Ehsaas Programme, the labor expert group was formed by the prime minister last Labor Day to prepare recommendations to address the income, health and social security issues of workers in the informal sector. In light of those recommendations, the government would take practical steps to bring daily wagers and labour workers into the mainstream.

The informal economy in Pakistan is large and workers have limited access to labour welfare services. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Labour Force Survey 2017-18, the informal sector accounts for 71.7% of the employment in main jobs outside agriculture, more in rural areas (75.6%) than in urban areas (68.1%).

According to Dr Nishtar, the group has completed a consultation process on recommendations for informal sector workers. The report is in the final stages of preparation and will be released this week.

Its focus is to determine the minimum wage for workers and daily wagers and to enable informal workers to have access to the facilities of labor-friendly social protection institutions in the labor sector. Data from formal sector workers has also been collected.

“I am grateful to the experts of the group and to all the provincial and regional labor organizations for their suggested research materials. We have been able to extend financial support to daily wagers through the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme and the scope of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme can be increased in the light of ground realities,” Dr Nishtar tweeted.

The Labor Expert Group includes the Social Security and Poverty Reduction Division, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, Planning Commission, all provincial labor departments, Pakistan Workers Federation, ILO and researchers, university professors, labor leaders and representatives of other relevant fields.