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Pakistan: Human Rights Watch calls on authorities to address the economic consequences of COVID-19 for vulnerable workers

Author: Human Rights Watch, Published on: 6 April 2020

“Pakistan: Workers Face Health, Economic Risks”, 01 April 2020

Pakistani authorities should take urgent steps to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on its most vulnerable workers, Human Rights Watch said today. [The outbreak] will have enormous economic consequences for garment and textile workers, domestic workers, home-based workers, and other workers in low-income households.

The Pakistan government should adopt measures protecting workers affected by COVID-19 from suffering loss of income that would push them further into poverty and deter them from self-isolating to contain the spread of the virus.

… Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch [said] “The economically marginalized are among the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19, and the government should urgently find ways to protect them.”

… All factories not producing essential items have been closed. Experts estimate that between 12.3 million and 18.5 million people in various sectors may lose their jobs…

Among the factories ordered to shut down are textile and garment factories that employ Pakistan’s largest industrial workforce. …

A lack of written labor contracts, inadequate legal protections, and poor enforcement of labor laws and regulations could heighten the problems during this crisis …The use of verbal contracts means that most do not have paid sick leave, social security, or health insurance, leaving them particularly vulnerable during … the pandemic.

These economic shutdowns have a disproportionate effect on women workers, especially home-based workers and domestic workers…

The government should, to the maximum extent of its available resources, provide low-wage workers with assistance to help offset the intense economic hardship and food insecurity from this situation...

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