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India, Domestic workers seek protection from Parliament

India, Domestic workers seek protection from Parliament

PTI file photo

National Platform of Domestic Workers will lead a protest in Delhi today asking for legal cover in the informal employment sector.

They are an "invisible" workforce and they are at the mercy of their employers who pay them poorly and deprive them of the rights any worker should have.

On Thursday, hundreds of domestic workers (maids, house helpers) will knock on the doors of Parliament with three lakh signatures seeking a new law to protect their rights. The protesters under the aegis of the National Platform of Domestic Workers (NPDW) and the central trade unions are demanding comprehensive legislation for domestic workers and withdrawal of the new labour codes.

India has around 64 lakh domestic workers as per 2011 Census data, but activists say these numbers are under-reported. While activist refers to reports suggest that there are around nine crore, such workers, they say domestic work is not treated as "real" work leading to large instances of undeclared work. Domestic work has been increasing over the years, to the extent of 222% since 1999-2000, they claimed.

They also said the demographics of domestic work have changed in recent times, with many more women than men being employed as maids and house helpers.

"While paid domestic work was once a male-dominated occupation in pre-independence India (Neetha 2004), today women constitute 71% percent of this sector. National estimates for 2004-5 suggest 4.75 million workers were employed by private households, making domestic work as the largest female occupation in urban India," the NPDW said in a statement.

"Being within the home, domestic workers are largely invisible and thirdly, this can be a part-time occupation, with workers taking up other seasonal occupations. The demand for domestic workers is also on the increase," they added.

One of the main demands of the protesters is the withdrawal of the labour code, which they feel is "basically an attempt to make business easier while withdrawing all the former gains of the labour movement".

With 93% of workers falling into the informal sector, activists are demanding that these codes should protect domestic workers and their rights and not treat them as beneficiaries of welfare.


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