Women working in informal sectors put forward five-point demand to labor ministry

Published On: May 2, 2019 02:30 AM NPT By: Sonam Lama

KATHMANDU, May 2: While many events were organized on Wednesday to mark the May Day with formal discussions on labor rights, a group of women workers gathered at a function organized in a different way and submitted a five-point demand to the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security.

Aiming to highlight the challenges faced by working class women, the gathering put forward the five-point demand to Lok Nath Bhusal, under secretary at the ministry.

Representatives of those working in various informal sectors such as garbage collection, street vending, and hotel and restaurant waiters were active in organizing the event.

They demanded security and health safety, equal wage, universal social protection of women workers and social security, safe workplace and reducing work burden by introducing gender-friendly laws.

Unlike in other events, the function was organized by the representatives of working class women ranging from various age groups and different areas of the country. Representatives from the same group moderated the event. Altogether 62 women engaged in various works attended the event and 45 women workers working in 12 different informal sectors were the participants.

A group of women shared their work experiences and challenges they face on a daily basis.

Maya Tamang, 38, talked about the health hazards that many workers go through while working as garbage collectors. “Many times, we have to work without gloves and boots which increase the risk of physical injury. If the government could provide health insurance and safety materials, it could help the workers live a much easier life,” said Tamang.

Kabita Magar, 17, a waitress working in the capital shared her experience of how she and her friends feel unsafe while returning home from work from the night shift. “Sometimes, we don't get paid on time. Returning home late in the night makes us feel highly insecure. Since there are no street lights on the way, we struggle to get home as quicker as we can,” said Magar.

“There is no moment of respite selling clothes on the street with the police confiscating our goods. We request the government to provide us with a permitted area to carry out our business without any worry,” said Rama Mahat Basnet, 40, a street vendor.

“The event has formally initiated the campaign but the hurdles lie in the implementation process. We are planning to form a group of watchdogs to speculate further processes to put the works into action in order to meet the objectives of the campaign,” said executive director of Homenet Nepal, Om Thapaliya, one of the organizers of the event.

“In order to make this campaign a success, it is very significant for each person to deeply realize the dignity of labor,” said Asha Singh Rathour, vice president at Nepal Trade Union Congress. “Furthermore, it is important for the working class to be informed about their rights and duties including the minimum wage and be vocal when the laws are not properly implemented at the workplace.

Meanwhile, Bhusal said that the demands are highly relatable to the newly-planned agendas of the ministry. “As the workers are highly dispersed within and outside the country, their unity is also fragmented. In order to protect labor rights, it is crucial to boost the economy by producing national products. It could eventually help increase employment opportunities within the country,” added Bhusal.

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