“DOMESTIC work is not recognised as labour in our country. Hence the people, especially women, doing this work have no rights as those granted to labours. They are not included in any labour law or bill. BMS stands for their rights seeking justice and legislation for them,” said Geetatai Gokhale, vice president of BMS in New Delhi on March 16. She was speaking at a workshop organised by ILO on ‘trade unions and decent work for domestic workers’ from March 15 and 16 at Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
She said the BMS, the largest central trade union of the country with current membership of over one crore, has been organising domestic workers and empowering them through capacity building programmes and educating them about their duties and rights. Apart from conducting various awareness campaigns across the country, the BMS intervenes in crisis situations and help the child domestic workers to rejoin their families.
Expressing concern over the overall condition of domestic workers in the country she said those people have no job security and are fired at whim of their employers. They are constantly vulnerable to verbal, physical and sexual harassment and have no place to register the complained of ill treatment.
She suggested that all such workers should get themselves registered. This registration should be local and through Gram Sachivalayas. Once the practice of registration begins, some sort of data collection will be possible. Then welfare boards can be formed on the lines of Maharashtra Domestic Workers’ Welfare Boards. Such Welfare Boards will be helpful in securing decent work and wages for them. She also suggested that NGOs and central trade unions should be encouraged for the management of such welfare schemes. She insisted that unemployment insurance scheme, social security and health care security schemes should be there for the benefit of these workers, she said.
The ILO has decided that the promotion of decent work for domestic workers would be the agenda of 99th and 100th sessions of the International Labour Conference schedule to take place in June 2010 and 2011. The conference will aim at the adoption of International Labour Standards possibly in the form of a convention on decent work for domestic workers and accompanying recommendations.
(By Sangeeta Sachdev)