On the International Day of Domestic Workers 2021, celebrated on June 16, employees who work in households staged a protest outside the Ministry of Labor to highlight the issues they face. Many said the households they worked for refused to hire them if they were not vaccinated.
Geeta Menon, co-founder of Stree Jagruti Samiti, who organized the protest, said domestic workers were one of the groups most affected during the pandemic and face job losses and pay cuts. “Before we could even recover from the loss of the lockdown last year, restrictions were imposed this year. With layoffs and non-payment of wages, food security and the safety of workers’ lives were threatened. Burdened with the children’s rent, bills and school fees, most of them can barely manage a meal a day, ”she said, adding that employers and apartment associations should take initiative and organize vaccination camps for them free of charge.
According to Priyadarshini P., a domestic worker, the process to obtain the compensation amount of ₹ 2,000 announced by the state government is proving to be an obstacle.
“Many of us don’t have access to computers and smartphones. How are they supposed to register online? How will domestic workers get a work certificate? This situation has led to intermediaries and brokers who promise to fill out forms, upload documents on behalf of workers and charge them money, ”she said. The Samiti demanded that the government ensure that compensation is made easily accessible and universal to all workers.