Beyond Trafficking and Slavery

Voices from the supply chain: an interview with HomeNet South Asia

BTS speaks with Prabha Pokhrel of HomeNet South Asia on the problems faced by homeworkers in Nepal.

Prabha Pokhrel
3 August 2016

Prabha Pokhrel

BTS: Hello Prabha, thanks for joining us. Can I ask you to begin by telling us about some of the problems that homeworkers face in Nepal?

PP: In Nepal, homeworkers are not formally recognised or covered by employment law. Neither are they measured in national statistics. We assume that there are 2.5 million of them but none of the statistics confirm how many are really out there. So that is one thing. And because homeworkers are not legally recognised, they don’t have safety protections, they don’t have social or economic security, and they don’t have continuous work or minimum wages. Only factory workers are entitled to or can legally battle for minimum wages. Homeworkers don’t have a contract, they don’t have good conditions, they don’t have continuous work and they can’t have higher pay. Their average wages are 30% to 40% of the minimum wage.

BTS: So what three things would help transform home work into decent work?

PP: The first thing I would be lobbying for is for recognition by the government. The second thing would be the minimum wage translated into the piece rate, because these workers are paid on a piece rate. The third thing would be access to benefits and healthcare.

BTS: And from an international perspective, why would a convention on decent work in global supply chains be important for this struggle?

PP: Homeworkers are the last link in the supply chain. Any convention would therefore help push them to be recognised as formal workers. We want to raise their voices and a convention will be crucial for that. So it would put homeworkers on the agenda. They are in the shadows right now. But we want rights and recognition as workers.

BTS: Thank you very much.

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