‘Domestic workers an essential workforce’

The NDWM- Nagaland Region during a press conference in Assisi Auditorium, Dimapur on September 24.
The NDWM- Nagaland Region during a press conference in Assisi Auditorium, Dimapur on September 24.

NDWM-Nagaland Region joins nationwide campaign

Dimapur, September 24 (MExN): The National Domestic Workers Movement (NDWM)-Nagaland Region on Thursday drew the State Government’s attention to the plight of domestic workers in the State and demanded recognition and security for them.

In a press conference organized in Assisi Auditorium in Dimapur, the NDWM-Nagaland Region laid down four demands for the government.

It demanded the recognition of domestic workers as workers, while seeking protection for them against all types of harassment.

It also called for social security and access to benefits for the domestic workers and asked the State Government to include domestic workers in the schedule of employment and thus ensuring minimum wages entitlement.

“Domestic Workers are essential workers, they are not carriers of diseases, do not discriminate them,” was the NDWM-Nagaland Region’s stand as they joined the nationwide campaign organized by the National domestic workers platform with its 34 unions.

The campaign has been started during the COVID-19 pandemic to convey that domestic workers are not the carriers of the disease.

Aobendang, Field Animator NDWM-Nagaland Region, who shared the plight of domestic workers in Dimapur during the pandemic particularly highlighted the case of female domestic workers.

The travel restriction from one colony to another has affected their livelihood and income security due lack of social protection, he said.

“They are in threat of dismissal from job, when not reporting to their work in fear of infection of COVID-19. In some cases the employers were afraid that the domestic workers may carry the virus since they reside together in the colonies where sanitation and hygiene were lacking. And in some cases they were not welcomed to their work places as some domestic workers worked with multiple employers,” he shared.

The pandemic has also halted the work for some domestic workers for almost six months and some are not being paid or assisted, he added.

Problems faced by domestic workers:
The NDWM-Nagaland Region said that the State Government, general public and also many of the employers do not recognize ‘domestic work as work’ or treat ‘domestic workers as workers.’

With no provision for weekly holidays, maternity leave and health benefits, they are also not brought under the labor rights or laws, it highlighted.

Deeply concerned about their plight during the COVID-19 lockdown, and affirming the National the Platform for Domestic Workers (NPDW)’s demand from the GoI to pay heed to the problems of the informal workers, the NDWM-Nagaland Region rued that there is still no data on the number of workers engaged in this sector, one of the fastest growing sector of workers today in India.

Despite lockdown being partially lifted, it is about 6 months now that 70% of the workers have been without work and there is no indication as to when the situation will ‘normalise’, the NDWM-Nagaland Region shared.

It further appealed to the employers to treat domestic workers as workers, to recognize their work and to provide decent working conditions for them apart from welcoming them in their homes.

Advocate Limanochet, Advisor also shared the Charter of Demands of the NPDW which stipulated that all workers be provided with a cash transfer of Rs 6300 per month for period of 3 months amounting to Rs 18600  with immediate effect as per the National Disaster Management Act.

The revised list of items and norms in the Act requires the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) / National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to focus on the relief that should be extended to the vulnerable people whose livelihood are affected by the disaster, he said. 

As domestic workers fall into this category, they should also receive this allowance, he reasoned.

The NPDW has also demanded the implementation of an urban employment Guarantee scheme - on the lines of the MGNREGS.

The domestic workers are a specific category of workers who work in private homes and hence require a separate legislation, according to the NPDW.

 “As a Platform representing such workers, we demand that Comprehensive Legislation for Domestic Workers be enacted,” it added.