Though it was International Domestic Workers’ Day on Sunday, it was just another day for many workers in the city, with no change in their daily routine.
While it was a sleepy Sunday for Ratnamma’s employer, the 42-year-old worker had no respite from her daily chores. Ratnamma had to sweep four floors at an apartment complex at 8 in the morning.
“The owners will not pay me if I don’t work for a day. Sunday or any other day (referring to Domestic Workers’ Day) makes no difference for people like us,” she says. Ratnamma, who has not enrolled with any domestic workers’ unions, is not aware of labour laws and schemes. There could be many like her and their plight could be no different. Bangalore is estimated to have five lakh domestic workers.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recognised the value of domestic work and adopted convention 189 giving domestic workers the same rights as other workers.
Various unions have urged that India being a member of the ILO is bound by this convention of decent employment for domestic workers and should ensure extension of welfare measures formulated by the Ministry of Labour.
“The condition of domestic workers in India is unjust and unpardonable. A national policy on domestic workers has been formulated by the Ministry of Labour, but is yet to be notified. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is yet to be extended to domestic workers in the state. The government should be proactive in recognising their rights,” said Sister Celia- national core team member of the National Platform for Domestic Workers (Karnataka).
Meanwhile, various groups submitted a memorandum to the Labour Department on Saturday requesting them to the extend the benefits of RSBY to domestic workers.
But some have come a long way in claiming their rights and making their employers understand their contribution.
“It’s been a year since I worked on Sundays. Like any other worker, I also need time to spend valuable time with family. At the time of joining itself I made it clear to my employer that I would take my day-off on Sunday and they respect it,” says Selvi, a domestic worker in Ejipura.