about 400,000 to 5,00,000 Domestic workers are SAID TO EB SERVING in Delhi most of whom, are the tribals from Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Often the New Economic Development policies which forced displacement and loss of livelihood of the tribals forced them to come to cities and towns of the country to find possibilities of livelihood, and even live in the slum. Many are working as Domestic workers in families, while some are in the construction sector and many are working in unorganized sectors. It has also come to our notice that very few of the Domestic workers are receiving above Rs. 15,000/- per month beside their food and shelter. But most of the Domestic workers (DW) are not paid their due wages, old Domestic Workers are pushed out and new Domestic Workers are taken in conveniently paying less salaries, Many are facing physical, sexual and verbal abuses. Many girls are living with men without getting married and having children outside of marriage are despised by the families and society. They do not have centers for gatherings and meetings. Similarly they do not have facilities for communications or Support. Legal aid is a dream for them. There is no place or opportunity for training, skill development and meetings with employers. On a positive note, it was observed that the domestic workers are called ‘Didi’ or called by their names in the families. From the degrading title ‘ Naukarani’ to a more respectable ‘Didi’ has been something positive on the part of the employers, said Sarita Baa from Jharkhand. It is necessary that interaction takes place between them and those citizens and Organizations who are working to uphold Human rights, dignity, equality, and freedom. With the situation as it stands, it is not possible for the domestic workers to live as decent citizens of this country.
In view of the prevailing misery and inhuman conditions of the Domestic workers, on 13th December 2017the CBCI Office for Tribal Affairs and the Office for Labour jointly organized a meeting of the leaders and social activists who are involved in the recognition of the Domestic Workers as workers and for their due rights .
In the meeting Adv. Sr. Rani HCM explained the possibilities and invited all to join together so that the domestic workers can avail of the governments schemes, social security and other benefits.. She also emphasized that we need to continue demanding for the recognition of the Domestic Workers as ‘Workers’ and work for due rights for the unorganized workers so that all are treated equally as citizens of the country with rights and justice.
Ms.Shreejita Dey from the Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council (DWSSC), which is a non-profit organization, under the aegis of National Skill Development Corporation of the ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, explained the possibilities of professionalizing the domestic workers by upgrading the domestic skills. Abilities and development is not necessarily about formal education alone, but about skills she pointed out. The primary role of the council is to fix National standards for domestic work, work out a curriculum and give certification. She narrated about the facilitating linkages among various stakeholders, and ways to develop labour market information, creation of skill aspiration and appreciation, standard process of skill training, building of institutional capacities, and creation of a favourable working environment.
In his concluding remarks, Most Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas SFX, Secretary General of CBCI, encouraged the new initiative. He reiterated that the Catholic Church in India was committed to the poor, marginalized, the tribals, the dalits, women and children. The Domestic workers and the unorganized workers need our utmost concern and compassionate love and support. Appreciating the team work of CBCI offices for Labour and Tribal Affairs, he said we wish to collaborate in the activities of the government all over the country so that that the uneducated and less educated youths will have opportunity for livelihood with dignity.
The meeting concluded with a resolution to start the programme with a group of 30 Domestic workers in one place in January, 2018, with DWSSC leading the pilot project and hoping that it will be followed by many other groups. Sr. Jonita proposed a vote of thanks to all for creating positive hope among the Domestic workers.
Sr. Rani HCM CBCI Office for labour
Fr. Nicholas Barla, CBCI Office for Tribal Affairs.