CHENNAI: Addressing a meeting to discuss the need for a law to protect the domestic workers in Chennai on Saturday, the State Human Rights Commission’s chairperson Justice S Baskaran said that the TN SHRC will send an appropriate recommendation to the government to come out with a special law for the welfare of the domestic workers.
The former judge of Madras HC said this during the inaugural ceremony of the meeting organized by the National Domestic Workers’ Movement under the topic “State Level Consultation: State Legislation for Domestic Workers – A Journey towards legal protection” here at Loyola College of Education.
According to the SHRC chairperson, the special legislation needs to address several issues that are being faced by domestic workers, certainly women.
“The constitution of India ensures the fundamental rights to every citizen of India. Therefore, no one should be ill-treated under the name of domestic workers, ” Justice Baskaran said, adding, “Basic pay, work hours, workplace safety, harassment-free work environment are the basic needs for the domestic workers that should be discussed before enacting the law.”
He also noted that the law should be brought under the Concurrent List and therefore, both the center and state could play a better role in protecting the domestic workers.
“In Brazil, a pregnant domestic worker is entitled to paid leave without dismissal of service even after five months since the birth of the baby. Thailand is providing social insurance to pregnant domestic workers. Hence, the maternity benefits should be provided to domestic workers as like the government employees are receiving, ” the retired judge noted.
Justice Baskaran also opined that domestic workers are playing a crucial role in the development of society and the nation. “When men and women in a family are going to a job or business, the domestic workers are taking care of the houses. Therefore, they are indirectly contributing to the GDP of the nation by supporting the salaried employees and entrepreneurs’ house-holds, ” he noted.
He assured that SHRC will take steps to recommend the government to bring a law for the protection of the domestic workers and will serve in a way safeguarding their rights.
AS Kumari, chairperson of the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women said that though 97 percent of domestic workers are women, they are unaware of their rights and the laws to protect women.
“We are receiving 60-80 complaints per day from the rural areas. However, women in the city are not sending many petitions when compared to rural women. They should know about their rights and strive toward success in life. When you face sexual harassment or any other means of harassment you can call women’s helpline by dialing 181,” Kumari said.
She further noted that TN State Commission for Women will also support and recommend the government to bring a law for the welfare and protection of domestic workers.
Valarmathi, State Coordinator, National Domestic Workers Movement said that the meeting was arranged to discuss several aspects and issues related to domestic workers. The objective of the meeting is to send a request to the state to enact a law for extending legal protection to the domestic workers.