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Domestic workers for rights

Shillong, Jan. 9: Patricia Mukhim, a member of the National Security Advisory Board, today advised the North East Region Domestic Workers Movement, a workers’ body, to set up a complaint cell for the benefit of its members.

Speaking at the International Domestic Workers’ Day at the Don Bosco Youth Centre here, Mukhim, while urging the domestic workers to stand united in the fight for their rights, said a complaint cell would help such workers to register their grievances.

Speaking of the Supreme Court ruling which says that an organisation with 20 women employees should have a complaint cell, Mukhim said domestic workers faced a lot of harassment in workplace. “However, they never complain for fear of losing their jobs,” she added.

She said few women take advantage of their position to extract undue favour, which in turn, injures the interests of the majority.

The workers’ body enlisted certain demands for the protection of their rights.

Domestic workers requested the Centre to support the adoption of Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers at the International Labour Convention to be held in Geneva in June.

They also asked the government to ensure that domestic workers were included in the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, and requested a comprehensive act to protect their rights.

Women domestic workers were not included within the ambit of the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment Bill, 2010, which was tabled in Parliament recently.

The government contended that as domestic workers were in the non-formal sector, it was difficult to bring them within the scope of the bill.

“The large emerging middle class in India built their prosperity walking with the aid of crutches provided by the most unorganised, unprotected and vulnerable sections of our workforce — the domestic workers. It is in the interest of the country and the middle class who employ them to protect and ensure their well-being,” the workers’ body said in a memoradum to be submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

It said the most important factor in protecting domestic workers’ rights was to recognise domestic work as a work on a par with other workers and with necessary legislations.

At the end of the programme, a signature campaign was held to gather support for the recognition of the rights and privileges of domestic workers, which would be then sent to the Prime Minister.

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