NSDC, ILO working on skill council for domestic workers

Kolkata, June 19 (IANS) The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is “reviewing” a proposal by the ILO to form a unique sector skill council for domestic workers in India which will eventually help in recognising domestic work as a skilled occupation.

“It is important to recognise domestic work as a skilled occupation. So skill development is necessary. NSDC and ILO are working on forming a unique sector skills council for domestic workers,” said Bharti Birla, national project co-ordinator of International Labour Organisation’ Decent Work Technical Support Team (DWT) for South Asia and country office for India.

“A proposal has been submitted to the NSDC and it will soon approve it. It is reviewing the proposal currently,” she said.

Describing it as a “big step”, Birla said it involves a consortium of NGOs, civil society organisations, trade unions, vocational training providers and placement agencies.

“There are sector skill councils in 31 sectors and the one on domestic workers will be unique. Once the central government provides skill training to domestic workers, you can’t pay wages that are paid to unskilled workers,” she added.

In India, seven states have implemented minimum wages for domestic workers, while three states have included domestic workers under schedule employment, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is being executed in three states while Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have each got their own welfare boards for domestic workers, she said.

But so far, India has not ratified the ILO Convention No. 189 on “Decent Work for Domestic Workers” since its national laws and practices are not in conformity with the provisions laid down by the agency.

“It is crucial to push for a policy on domestic workers since a policy needs to be passed to provide a framework for legislation for domestic workers. India will not ratify the convention unless it has its own laws,” Birla said at the national consultation on domestic workers organised by Action Aid (Kolkata Regional Office) in association with Citizens Rights Collective and NGO consortium-Shramik Sahayata Kendra (Sristy, Span and Patikar) as also School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University.

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