The Delhi Shramik Sangathan, a federation of Construction Workers Union & Car Cleaners Union along with its constituent organization Delhi Domestic Workers Union jointly organized a rally on Tuesday, 26th, Aug’08 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Around 1500 domestic workers attended the rally and submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister, Labour Ministry and the Lok Sabha Speaker.
The rally was addressed by several eminent political leaders, Union leaders, scholars and social activists.
Anita Juneja, convener of Delhi Domestic workers unions welcome the participants at rally and urged the domestic workers of Delhi to increase the pace of the movement so that domestic workers could become a political forces to reckon with. She said that around seven-eight lakh strong workforce of domestic workers in the city is working at paltry sums of Rs 1200 – 1500 per month and live in semi-human conditions of bondage and starvation. They are victims of constant verbal and sexual abuse without any grievance redressal mechanism. Worsening their situation is the city administration’s brutal eviction drive – dislocating and destabilizing the lives of the very people without whom the city would come to a crippling halt. This disruption of people’s lives has led to children being the worst victims with an absolute denial of basic health care and education. Spending the meagre resources available to them to tackle continuous illness, the children by the age of ten are also forced to join as domestic help to contribute to the paltry income of the family. In the absence of any provision of maternity benefit, pension, ESI, PF, Gratuity, health facilities, crèche at work site etc these workers are forced to continue with no security of work.
The union along with Nirmala Niketan approached the National Commission of Women (NCW) to raise the issue at the national level. A subcommittee was formed by NCW to draft the bill on Regulation of Employment & Working Condition of Domestic Workers. The draft prepared was discussed during the National Consultation on Domestic workers organized by NCW on 14th-15th of March’08 at New Delhi. The recommendations of the consultation have been finalized. Now the recommendations need to be incorporated in the Bill drafted by the Sub-Committee of NCW and the final shape of the Bill need to be sent to the Central Government as recommendations of the NCW.
Details of the NCW proposal
Under the proposed law a tripartite Board is to be formed by the State & Union Territories governments. This Board will register all employers, domestic workers and Placement Agencies. Board will collect its fund mainly from the registration of employers. Rs.1000 per year will be collected from the employer of live-in full time domestic Worker and Rs.200 per year from the employer of part time domestic Worker, which will add to about rupees one hundred crore rupees per annum in Delhi alone. In addition the Board will collect a nominal fee of Rs.100 per annum from the live-in full time domestic worker and Rs 20 per year from the part time domestic worker. Rs.100 per placement per year will be collected from the placement agencies besides a lump sum fees and security amount depending upon the number of annual placement done by an Agency.
The Board will provide an identity Card, bank account, regular medical check up, shelter in crisis & sickness, provide working conditions, dispute regulation, regulation of placement agency, keep full record of domestic workers which will check and prevent child labor in domestic work and help in tracing trafficked girls to prevent trafficking for domestic work.
The demand of the Domestic workers is to accept Domestic Work as ‘Work’ and Domestic Worker as ‘Workers’ and lend it the dignity and reorganization of labor. Consequently all benefits and rights that accrue to workers must be extended to this huge workforce (of which no census statistics are available) so far unprotected by any labor legislation. Minimum labor standards should be applied to achieve decent conditions of work and a living wage by including domestic workers as unorganized sector worker as the Central Government representatives assured the Supreme Court of India in a PIL on behalf of Domestic Workers.
The rally demanded that –
1. The legislation proposed by the National Commission for Women be called The Domestic Workers (Regulation and Conditions of Employment & Welfare) Act;
2. The Domestic Worker Act should provide for compulsory registration of Employers, Domestic Workers and all service providers, including placement agents/Agencies and contractors;
3. The Tripartite Boards of Domestic Workers should constitute State/District level Committees for complain against sexual harassment at work place which should also provide protection for women going about to work as Domestic Workers;
4. Domestic Workers should also be registered at the source area and regulation of employment along with ID cards be done, also at source;
5. Minimum age of employment should be 16 years;
6. Tripartite Boards of Domestic Worker to be set up to regulate employment conditions, social security and welfare measures. The board should be authorized to constitute dispute resolution councils and Appellate Authorities;
7. Tripartite Board of Domestic Worker should have 50% representative of Domestic Workers directly elected by the registered domestic workers and 25% representatives of related department of Central and States Governments such as Labor, Child and Women Welfare, SC/ST Welfare, Social Welfare etc. and 25% representatives of employers and Resident Welfare Associations;
8. Tripartite Boards of Domestic Workers should be authorized to formulate guidelines for regulating employment and working conditions for domestic workers going outside India as domestic workers and provide social security to them;
9. All Labor laws to apply including Minimum wages Act, Payment of wages Act, Workmen’s’ compensation act, Accidents benefit Act, etc. and any such legislations applicable to industrial workers;
10. Tripartite Boards of Domestic Workers will be authorized to file complains/FIR etc. on behalf of Domestic Workers where the Domestic Workers is not in a position to file a complain;
11. Rights to inspection of workplace and living space by individuals / groups / organizations as assigned by the Tripartite Board of Domestic Workers;
12. Tripartite Boards of Domestic Workers will primarily depend upon the registration fees collected from Employers, Domestic Worker and Placement Agencies but till enough fees is collected the government must make adequate budgetary provisions for implementing the Act either as grants or loan.
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