Domestic workers demand a comprehensive law

Domestic maids


Rama Krishna Sangem

Domestic Workers Union Telangana State demanded Comprehensive Legislation to protect the rights of the eleven lakh domestic workers in Telangana State. Varghese Theckanath, Honorary President of the Union, addressing the media after their annual meeting, said that there are five lakh workers in Hyderabad and another six lakh in the rest of the state. However, there is no law to recognise these workers as workers or to protect their rights.

The over six hundred delegates of the Union from seven districts that met in Hyderabad demanded that the legislation should cover working conditions, registration of workers and employers by the labour department, issue of identity cards, formation of a tripartite Welfare Board and other measures.

The Union also demanded that the Minimum Wage in the State should be revised to Rs. 12000 per month for 8 hours of work. Domestic Workers were brought under the Minimum Wages Schedule in the State. But it is only Rs. 9370/- today. Even this has not been paid in the State, especially in districts.

The Union demanded that a penalty clause be added to the Schedule for Domestic Workers so that employers who do not pay the minimum wage can be penalised. A weekly holiday and safe and adequate working conditions is necessary. The Union also demanded that domestic workers should be provided Life and Health Insurance. The State Legislature should pass a Resolution in the Assembly to amend the ESI Act to extend ESI to unorganised workers, including domestic workers.

PoW Sandhya, of Progressive Organisation for Women, shared that several domestic workers migrate to the cities from their villages with an aspiration for better living but the city fails them as the indifference of householders and governments do not recognise their struggles. It is estimated that there are 30 million domestic workers in India (Draft National Policy, 2016). 95 per cent of these workers are women. A large number of these workers are Tribals, Dalits, Backward Classes and minorities.

Their work within homes makes them very vulnerable. It is hence that Domestic Workers need protection, welfare and support. India is also the largest sending country of domestic workers to other countries. Unfortunately, India has not yet ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189, even after 12 years of its adoption in 2011.

Nor are the Domestic Workers explicitly included in the four Labour Codes adopted by the Parliament. These are issues the new State Government need to address in its effort to develop a State that is inclusive, just and welfare-oriented. Smt. Usha, of Sannihitha shared that if the Telangana State adopts a Legislation, it will be the first State to do so. There are other states like Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha that are also preparing to pass legislation on domestic workers.

A declaration was signed on the occasion. This was signed by Lakshmi Ponnada Smt. Manjula Vallala, President, GUTS – Medchal Secretary, GUTS  Smt. Sandhya, Smt. Usha, Progressive Organisation for Women Sannihitha  Bro. Varghese Theckanath S.G. Sr. Lourdu Mary Honourary President, GUTS Coordinator, GUTS

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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