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Minimum wage demand for domestic workers grow louder

By Mirror Desk Updated: Jun 05, 2019 12:38 am

Eastern Mirror Desk

Dimapur, June 4: The All Nagaland Domestic Workers’ Union (ANDWU) has once again demanded the state government to include domestic workers in the schedule of employment of Minimum Wages Act 1948.

It has also demanded for recognition of domestic work as ‘work’ and for zero tolerance on gender-based violence on domestic workers. The demands were made during a press conference organised by the National Domestic Worker’s Movement (NDWM) Nagaland region in collaboration with ANDWU and Assisi Centre for Integrated Development on Tuesday at Assisi Higher Secondary School in Dimapur.

A descriptive study on the ‘socio-economic conditions of the domestic workers’ was presented by the state coordinator of NDWM, Pramila Lobo. Samples were sourced from 1900 respondents (members of ANDWU) from various areas in Dimapur as well as other districts from 2014-19 along with data from stakeholders, news reports, case history, and annual reports from the NDWM.

The objective of the study was to know the various forms of exploitation of women domestic workers; to study the demographic profile in terms of age, marital status, education etc.; and to understand the socio-economic background including their living condition, work-related problems, wages, and recognition.

The report showed that 42% of domestic workers earn daily wage between INR 41 to 100, 39% earn INR 101 to 150, 13% earn above INR 150, and 6% earn less than INR 60. “In Nagaland, the domestic workers are paid according to the employer’s preference. The domestic workers are not entitled for minimum wages as they are not enrolled in the schedule of employment,” the report read.

Out of the total respondents, 81% said they were paid monthly, 3% weekly, and 16% daily. For the monthly income, 48% get below INR 3000. Most of them are part time or full time workers; 38% earn INR 3001 to 6000 while 10% earn INR 6000 to 9000 and 4% earn above INR 9000. “The wages are not fixed. Many employers substitute with clothes and groceries, especially during festive season,” according to the report.

In regard to their age, 72% were in the age group between 35 to 59 years while 22% were between the age of 9 to 20 years and 6% were aged 60 and above.

Most of the respondents were migrants from Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal, making up 58%. The other 42% comprises local residents and indigenous migrants.

Concerning literacy rate, 25% did not have any formal education. Neither do they know how to write their names nor to read. 29% of the respondents had completed Class-4, 35% completed Class-8, 7% completed class-8 to 10, and only 4% completed Class-12.

“The literacy level of women remains lower than that of men in all the societies because of various socio-economic and cultural factors. This makes them choose domestic work,” the report stated.

Only 6% consider themselves as a ‘worker’ (an employee) while the remaining are considered as helpers, servants, and caretakers. The union was of the opinion that the matter should be seriously considered by the state government. “Domestic workers should be recognised as workers. They are not family members; treat them as workers, pay them wages, ensure safety and security.”

In regard to violence, 85% experienced verbal abuse; 73% said their wages were not paid on time; 54% said their wages were deducted for ‘silly reasons’; 43% did not get any leave during family death; 12% were forced to work when sick; 11% experienced sexual violence; 10% faced physical assault; 8% were not allowed to observe religious activities;  and 7% were not granted leave in emergency situations.

The legal advisor of the union, T Limanuchet Jamir, said that ‘Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, and Meghalaya, are the states in Northeast where domestic workers are granted minimum wage.’

Presently, only 1900 people have registered with the NDWM and the ANDWU in Nagaland.

By Mirror Desk Updated: Jun 05, 2019 12:38:00 am