CHENNAI: Domestic workers have demanded that the employer's home be declared as their workplace, to fix minimum wages as well as extend medical and provident fund benefits for them.
The National Platform of Domestic Workers (NPDW), a platform of different unions of domestic workers from across the country, has pointed out that the four new labour codes claim to pay heed to the rights of the informal workers, the domestic workers have been totally disregarded. They have also been specifically omitted from the Code on Occupational Health and Safety.
The forum has put forward a set of demands stressing that domestic workers have to be regarded as workers and should have the following rights. First, they have demanded scheduling minimum wages. Only 17 states have declared minimum wages for domestic workers but even these wages were below the wages of unskilled workers. While domestic workers also do skilled work of cooking, child care and care of the elderly, these wages should be increased.
Next, they demanded that the employer's home should be declared as a workplace. In none of the labour codes is the home defined as a workplace. A private home in which a domestic worker works should be defined as a workplace and included as an establishment in the Codes.
They demanded inclusion of domestic workers in ESI and PF. The Social Security Code, by its definition of an enterprise, excludes the home as a workplace and hence, the domestic workers have no rights to social security. The NPDW has developed their demand on the grounds that the employer, the domestic worker and some cess can be collected from the house tax for instance, to make ESI and PF available for domestic workers.
The forum also demanded housing in cities for domestic workers, who live in slums and bad housing.
A number of Members of Parliament including from the CPI, Congress and VCK extended support to the workers, assuring to raise the issue in the Parliament.