Domestic workers/helpers across the world are from the most marginalised communities, besides being the most exploited. The International Labour Organization, to protect the interests of the domestic workers, adopted Convention 189 that offers protection to domestic workers on June 16, 2011.

“Yet, even after two years, the Union government has still not ratified the ILO’s Convention 189; neither has it passed the national policy for domestic workers. There are no laws regulating the employment, specifying the conditions of work or providing social security to the domestic workers,” said Ruth Manorama, president of the National Alliance of Women (NAWO).

She was addressing delegates who will be participating in the national consultation, ‘Decent work for domestic workers’, to be held on Monday. The national consultation has been organised jointly by the NAWO and the Karnataka Gruha Karmikara Sangha (KGKS), in association with Friedrich Elbert Stiftung (FES) and the National Centre for Labour (NCL).

National policy

Pravin Sinha, senior adviser (labour), FES, said that in 2009, the Ministry of Labour set up a committee to frame the national policy for domestic workers.

Even as the number of domestic workers rises, the Union government has still not passed the policy, which is now stuck with the Ministry of Labour and the Union Cabinet. Though there are domestic workers’ unions in 15 States, there was need for all these unions to work together. “It is because these unions are working separately that their impact is not felt at the national level.”

Minimum wages

Ms. Manorama pointed out that even the minimum wages were not assured to the domestic workers. After a long struggle, the State government fixed the minimum wages in 2004, which still eludes many workers. She said that through the national consultation, the organisations would be placing before the government three principle demands — ratify ILO’s Convention 189, passing the national policy for domestic workers and bringing in proper legislations regulating employment, conditions of work and providing social security.

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