Social Protection and plight of labour force in Pakistan during COVID-19

Social Protection and plight of labour force in Pakistan during COVID-19

Publication details

  • Tuesday | 17 Nov, 2020
  • Rana Junaid Zahid
  • COVID-19 Policy Review Series
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Introduction World Social Protection Report 2017-19 released by the International Labour Organization indicates “only 29 per cent of the global population has access to any effective social protection programme and about four billion poor and vulnerable people are left unprotected”. In Pakistan, about 80 per cent of the labour force is not registered with any social protection institution of the government, which means the state has no data of these workers (Ahmed 2020). According to Asian Development Bank (ADB), “Social protection is defined as the set of policies and programmes designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labor markets, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to protect themselves against hazards and interruption/loss of income.” In the light of the above definition, when we see the labour situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic, we find Pakistan not performing up to the mark. However, during the pandemic, the government responded with some relief for the poor in terms of social protection. By using data of Ehsas program and Benzir Income Support Program BISP, the government reached the poor and vulnerable population and distributed cash among them. In addition, the government has opened the construction sector and announced incentives for the industry. However, the problem lies with those 80% unregistered labour workers, who could not receive social protection during COVID-19. They might not be able to get some monetary ease from construction sector as well. Similarly, those working in houses and shops have also lost their jobs. This study aims to investigate the current situation of labour workers, who have not yet received any social protection amid COVID-19 pandemic and how they are dealing with the situation.