On International Domestic Workers’ Day 2021, observed on June 16, employees who work in households staged a protest in front of the Labour Department to highlight the problems they are facing. Many said that households they worked for are refusing to hire them if they are not vaccinated.
Geeta Menon, co-founder, Stree Jagruti Samiti, which organised the protest, said that domestic workers were one of the most affected groups during the pandemic and are facing jobs losses and salary cuts. “Even before they could recover from the loss of last year’s lockdown, restrictions were imposed this year. With the rampant termination of employment and non-payment of wages, food and life security of workers was at risk. Burdened by house rent, bills and children’s school fees, most of them can barely manage one meal a day,” she said, adding that employers and apartment associations should take the lead and conduct vaccination camps for them for free.
Problem of middlemen
According to Priyadarshini P., a domestic worker, the process to get the ₹2,000 compensation amount announced by the State government is proving to be a hurdle.
“Many of us don’t have access to computers and smartphones. How are they supposed to register online? How will domestic workers get an employment certificate? This situation has brought in middlemen and brokers who are promising to fill the forms, upload documents on behalf of workers and charge money from them,” she said. The Samiti demanded that the government ensure that compensation is made easily accessible and universal to all workers.
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