It remains a largely unorganised sector, this when there are about 50 lakh domestic workers in the country. A large number of domestic workers gathered in the Capital over the weekend to share their stories and seek better working conditions at a programme organised by the Domestic Workers Forum at Rajghat here on the Domestic Workers Day.

Lelya Tegmo-Reddy of the International Labour Organisation participated in the programme and addressed the gathering.

She said despite significant numbers and fast growth of the sector, domestic work is slow in receiving recognition as professional work or a skilled occupation. “Domestic workers are not covered under any labour laws and there are no legal and policy regulations to ensure protection of the workers employed in this sector. Collecting accurate and comparable data on the number of domestic workers throughout the world is extremely difficult,” she said.

She added, “Most domestic workers have little formal education and training, which limits their prospects for gainful employment and earning capacity and leaves them more vulnerable. So domestic work often has serious decent work deficits.”

Referring to the ILO’s “decent work for all’ goal, she said: “In promoting ‘decent work for all’, the plight and welfare of domestic workers comes close to our hearts in the ILO as although they play an indispensable role in our household, they are virtually invisible, unorganised and their contributions do not receive due recognition.”

Ms. Reddy said the National Commission for Women has already drafted a Bill for the protection of rights of the domestic workers. “The Bill is under review by different stakeholders. What is crucial at this stage would be a national law and legislation that recognises domestic work as employment, worthy of regulation and labour law protection, both for domestic workers and for their employers.”

She informed that in June this year, the ILO would be hosting a major international discussion on domestic workers at its annual International Labour Conference at Geneva, Switzerland.

“Many people think domestic workers do not require skills and training even though domestic workers perform a variety of tasks ranging from a basic level of household cleaning to more specialised cooking, baby/child care and elderly care. These different jobs require different sets of tasks with varying complexities and specialisation. In fact, our survey indicated that many of Delhi households are interested in employing properly trained household assistants and are willing to pay higher wages for them,” she added.

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