Make Weekly Leave Mandatory for Domestic Workers – Geetha Menon
Mangaluru: The Domestic Workers Rights Union (DWRU) and Women’s Awareness Committee jointly observed the World Domestic Workers’ day, at the Deputy Commissioner’s Office here, on June 20.
Prior to the programme, a rally was held from State Bank Circle to the DCO. Presidents of taluk and district DWRU shared their experiences as domestic workers. Ammu from Bengaluru said that when she asked her employer for weekly leave, she was harassed. “The employers also give negative remarks about us, which deprives us of getting a job in other places. We need to get facilities and the government should consider us as labourers,” she said.
Director of DWRU and Women’s Awareness Committee, Geetha Menon speaking on the occasion said that thousands of girls all over the country fall prey to trafficking, placement agencies or in search of livelihoods and enter into the urban upper middle class and elite households. “They work long hours with no rest or free time, suffer from all kinds of indignities and are not given their salaries on time. They also face sexual harassment and isolation. They take care of their owners’ children forgetting about their own children.”
Recalling a recent incident where two children of a domestic worker died when the mother left them home and went to her employer’s house to take care of the employer’s children, Menon questioned, “Who is responsible for the death of those two children? Sometimes, domestic workers have been harassed and false allegations have been put on them. Some domestic workers do commit crimes and such people should be punished, but those who are trustworthy should be given a good remuneration.”
“In many houses, if the domestic worker leaves the job, the employers hesitate to settle their salary. They create so many problems for the worker. Are they not human beings? Who will provide them safety? Sometimes, there is caste discrimination from the employers and assault on the dignity of the workers. Why is the government not including them on the labour list? The government should consider domestic workers as labourers and provide them appropriate facilities.”
She also advised the domestic workers to work as if they work in offices and not consider themselves as domestic workers. “If they consider themselves as domestic workers, the employers will take advantage of them and harassment will continue. In a historic convention which was held in 2011, domestic work had been considered as “decent work”. When domestic workers get international recognition, our government should consider their work as decent work,” she stressed.
While concluding, Geetha said that all the names of the domestic workers should be registered in the Labour Office. They should be given identity cards and it should come from the Labour Department. All domestic workers should be given weekly leave and their working hours should be fixed.
Labour commissioner Nagesh also spoke on the occasion.