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Govt sleeps on domestic help rights

New Delhi, Sept. 7 (PTI): The Union labour ministry and the National Commission for Women have not filed their response to Supreme Court notices on a public interest litigation accusing the government of doing little to protect the rights of domestic workers.

A bench of Justices Ruma Pal and P.V. Reddi, therefore, asked a petitioner NGO, the National Domestic Workers Welfare Trust, on Friday to serve a copy of the petition on the Centre through attorney-general Soli J. Sorabjee.

The Mumbai-based petitioners — the Trust, Setu and Youth for Unity and Voluntary Organisation — submitted that domestic workers in India remain excluded from all types of labour legislation enacted so far.

Counsel for petitioners, Colin Gonsalves and Aparna Bhat, argued that though India has ratified many labour-related international conventions, it has failed to enact any law for amelioration of the pitiable condition of domestic workers and provide them with social security. “Domestic workers, being in the blindspot of legislation, are unprotected with no avenues for redress available and they are bonded to their employers,” they said.

The petitioners said domestic workers do not receive any benefit under the workmen compensation act, payment of wages act, weekly holidays act, minimum wages act, maternity benefit act, personal injury compensation act, payment of gratuity act and the child labour (prohibition and regulation) act.

Narrating the government’s feeble attempts to table a bill, the petitioners sought a direction from the court to “forthwith enact a comprehensive legislation to protect the rights of domestic workers”.

It also requested directions to formulate schemes for the benefit of the domestic workers with special reference to wages, weekly holidays and medical assistance.

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