Most Live-in Domestic Workers In Nagaland At The Mercy Of Employers, Says CDI Official - Eastern Mirror
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Nagaland

Most live-in domestic workers in Nagaland at the mercy of employers, says CDI official

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By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Nov 27, 2023 8:02 pm
CDI
CDI officials and participants during the first stakeholders’ meet of the CDI in Dimapur, on Monday. (EM Images)

DIMAPUR — Domestic workers form the third largest category of workers after agriculture and construction, but they sadly continue to remain outside the purview of any legislative control, as they fall under the care economy, which is one of the least regulated sectors.

Central Coordinator of Centre for Development Initiatives (CDI), Bokali Kasho said this during the first stakeholders’ meet of the organisation at Tourist Lodge in Dimapur, on Monday.

The domestic workers contribute immensely to the economy of the state but their work is not accepted as dignified and most people do not even consider them as workers and even referred to as servants or maids, she lamented.

There has been an increase in the supply and demand of domestic workers in Nagaland over the years, she observed, adding that this trend is due to the rise in poor rural women seeking work in the urban areas.

“Most of them (domestic workers) are illiterate, minimally educated or low-skilled, and hence they have been facing exploitation for a long time due to their lack of literacy and social status. They work in poor conditions; are denied minimum wages, lack any social security cover and made to work for long hours without fair wages, and are vulnerable to physical abuse and harassment by the employers,” she pointed out.

The vast majority of the live-in domestic workers, Kasho disclosed, work a minimum of 15 hours a day, seven days a week, even as wages, leave, medical benefits and rest time are at the employer’s mercy.

“They are excluded from minimum wage coverage and are among the lowest paid workers,” she said, while pointing out that the absence of statutory safeguards makes the domestic workers vulnerable to exploitations from the market forces.

Pointing out the lack of dedicated legal provisions for domestic workers in Nagaland, the CDI central coordinator said: “We need a greater social and political commitment to address the challenges faced by domestic workers, because in the absence of such a commitment, this injustice will continue and the lives of this group of workers will remain stagnant.”

Kasho shared that a minimum wage recognises the economic and social contribution of workers and is a key means of ensuring the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

Informing that in the Northeast region, the governments of Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya had already fixed minimum wages for the domestic workers, she said that their counterparts in Nagaland too have the right to enjoy minimum wage and coverage equivalent to that provided to other workers.

She assured that the CDI is committed to ensuring rights, dignity, solidarity and better working conditions of the domestic workers across the Northeast region, including about 2000 of them in the state.

The CDI will strive to empower these workers to voice out their rights to the government and also impart skills so that they can become professionals, she said.

Providing a glimpse of CDI Kohima, Nagaland Co-ordinator, Sr. Rincy Kamei, said that there are 783 domestic workers and 53 self help groups in Kohima, and that the Ferrando Domestic Workers Alliance (FDWA) Kohima, an initiative of CDI, is helping them in accessing entitlements and social security schemes.

However, they are facing challenges in identifying the domestic workers door-to-door as the employers do not co-operate or allow them to register in the organisation.

To educate and communicate with the domestic workers is tough as they are illiterate and come from diverse cultures, she said, adding that most of the workers are migrants who often do not possess proper documents.

Field Animator of CDI Dimapur, Kuphuvili Lohe, disclosed that only 80 domestic workers, out of the 277 identified in Dimapur, are registered.

Lohe shared that the domestic workers face challenges in the form of low wage, long working hours, no paid leave, poor living and working conditions, absence of welfare schemes, and physical, verbal and mental harassment.

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By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Nov 27, 2023 8:02:04 pm
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