Guwahati, Thursday, September 10, 2020
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Domestic workers: most discriminated, stigmatised lot during COVID-19
City Correspondent
 GUWAHATI, Sept 9 - The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to focus the issues and challenges faced by informal workers in the country, especially the domestic workers. But they still remain deprived of sufficient legal and social protection.

 Now a missed call to the number ‘7829855888’ hopes to draw the government’s attention to frame policies and laws that protect and advance the rights of this underprivileged section.

The missed call campaign is a pan-India initiative. ActionAid, Women Wage Watch, organisations of domestic workers, civil society organisations, networks of organisations and solidarity circles from across the country have joined hands to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the domestic workers and to draw the attention of the Union and state governments to their plight, so that schemes, policies and laws can be passed to advance and secure their rights.

The campaign’s demands include: immediate relief to domestic workers through cash transfers till the pandemic ends; easy registration of domestic workers as ‘workers’ under the labour department through already existing systems like police verification forms, resident welfare associations’ letters, union membership, letters from placement agencies, civil society organisations and other associations; a comprehensive legislation to secure rights of domestic workers; creation of a social security scheme for domestic workers by the Union and state governments and immediate notification to all resident welfare associations and employers to ensure the safety and work security for domestic workers.

“The government and local administration have stepped in to support and reach out to several of these workers with relief packages, programmes and schemes, but many workers remain left out of the fold. Amongst the unprotected are the domestic workers, most of whom are women,” Anjan Bordoloi, programme officer of ActionAid said.

“Many workers have complained about withheld wages, and domestic workers have no protection and no access to social security,” he added.

Bordoloi further said that many domestic workers left the metro cities and took the road home to their native places. In their home states, these workers remain mostly confined to home and are finding it difficult to get any suitable employment. Domestic workers are finding it difficult to get back to employment as there is fear of infection amongst the employers. They are facing both discrimination and stigma arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the danger of domestic workers getting infected by their employers is equally real.

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