Grim reality of domestic helps in bondage
In June 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party government announced the formation of a committee to look into ways to “regulate the working conditions of domestic workers in Delhi“. In September that year, the panel’s report was unanimous on the urgent need for an exclusive legislation to protect the rights of this growing workforce. Two years later, there is no draft of such legislation.Even the law being drafted to regulate the operations of private placement agencies is just b
eing finalised and will likely reach the Delhi cabinet ina couple of months.
Trade unionist Ramendra Kumar, president, Delhi Gharelu Kamgar Sangathan, said that the growing instances of attacks on d
stic workers and violation of their rights to decent wages is clearly due to the absence of laws to protect them.
Having been in the committee set up by Delhi government in 2015, he was dismayed by the delay in enacting the sorely needed legislation.“I am disappointed at the lack of decisive action to protect the rights and secure the domestic workers, most of whom are women,“ Kumar said.
At the nationa
l level too, it is only now that a draft National Policy for Domestic Workers is taking shape. Earlier, in 2011, a poli
cy for domestic
workers caught the public attention, but faded away. The latest labour department draft estimates the number of people working as domestic helps at 2-2.5% of the population on. Last week, the union ministry of labour consulted stakeholders on the draft law with the ultimate aim being to “formalise domestic work and bring it at par with the formal workforce“.The draft policy says that “the central and state governments shall … institutionalise a social protection floor and ensure domestic workers are able to exercise their labour rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of India“.
In Delhi, the committee set up by the AAP government, headed by Shalimar Bagh MLA and then deputy Speaker Bandana Kumari with representatives from voluntary organisations, trade unions and the International Labour Organization as members, first sat on July 17, 2015. The records of the proceedings show that all members agreed that the working conditions of domestic workers were pathetic because of a lack of a specific law to regulate their services.